Brave Abuse-Survivor Shares His Story in Hopes of Justice for Himself and Other Children Experiencing Abuse
While foster care removes many children from dangerous situations, it can also cause further trauma and danger for them.
Abuse in the System is More Common Than You Might Think
As many as 28 percent of kids are abused while in the foster care system. However, official statistics may be severely underestimating the problem since foster kids are often conditioned not to speak up about the abuse they endure.
Some statistics from foster care in San Diego County give more insight as to why kids in foster care are originally removed from their homes. 86% of kids entered foster care because of neglect, 5% because of physical abuse, 2% because of sexual abuse, and 7% for other reasons.
While many kids who are taken from their homes are placed into a safe environment, too many kids experience further abuse in their foster homes. For one 47-year-old man, he was sexually abused in foster care beginning at the age of four.
Lamont Wilder was in foster care for the majority of his young adult life. He was removed from his home as a newborn at just a few weeks old, and “bounced around foster-care homes until he was 21.”
Starting at the age of four, he was “sexually abused by two foster parents, the husband of a woman who cared for him on weekends while he was in a home for troubled kids, and by a caregiver at that home,” according to two Bronx Supreme Court lawsuits Lamont filed against multiple foster care agencies.
Lamont voiced concerns for his own well-being as a youth, in addition to advocating for all children in foster care. He stated that the agencies should know who is working for them.
It’s easy to manipulate a child in a situation like that.
Especially when young children are involved, there should be rigorous background checks to ensure the safety of thousands of kids.
Lamont experienced sexual abuse for years in not one, but multiple different homes. Between the times of his abuse, he “spent four months in a psychiatric facility … after he lit fires on two separate occasions. According to the lawsuit, this is “a classic symptom of sexual abuse.”
Hoping for Justice
He has filed two lawsuits in hopes that justice for his pain will be served. His goals with these lawsuits are to “hold responsible those who ran the foster care programs, including New York City, Sheltering Arms Children and Family Services, Inc., Evolve Adoption & Family Services — which used to be called Crossroads — the New York Archdiocese and Astor Home for Children.”
Like others who have experienced abuse, the impacts have lasted Lamont’s entire life. He went from the foster care system to off-and-on living in the homeless shelter system. When discussing the impacts of his abuse, he stated,
I have very very serious issues trusting and making tight connections with people, I still suffer from a lot of depression from it… I don’t want to see other young men and women go through this because it’s crippling. I’m still affected by it, and I’m 47 years old.
Mark Shirian, Lamont’s lawyer, also added that he is proud of Lamont for “courageously pursu[ing] justice by sharing his story of abuse in order to prevent this tragedy from happening to other unsuspecting children and families.”
The New York Child Victims’ Act allows Lamont to file this lawsuit because it allows people who were abused or victimized as children to file suit outside of the statute of limitations. This act has helped many people speak out and find justice for their abuse.
We hope that Lamont gets the justice he deserves. This lawsuit can help thousands of other children who have experienced or are currently experiencing abuse.
If you need help or know someone who needs help, there are many resources and support systems available.
- Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline
- Text or Call: 1-800-422-4453
- National Sexual Assault Hotline
- Call: 800-656-HOPE
If you would like to donate or learn more about foster care, check out this link.