MANSFIELD, Conn. (AP) — A Connecticut couple is accusing local and state officials of wrongly removing their teenage daughter from their home and destroying their relationship with her based on the false belief they were mistreating the girl because she is lesbian.
The Catholic couple from Mansfield filed lawsuits earlier this year seeking at least $1 million in damages. The defendants include Mansfield school officials and the state Department of Children and Families, the Journal Inquirer reported Thursday.
The parents' lawyer, Ashling Soares, and officials with the school district and DCF declined to comment. The parents' names have not been disclosed because a judge is allowing them to use pseudonyms amid concerns about the girl being identified. They are also seeking to seal the court files from public view.
The girl was attending E.O. Smith High School and suffering suicidal ideations in the fall of 2017 when she told a guidance counselor her parents yelled at her and her father pushed her because her sexuality conflicted with their religious beliefs, the lawsuit says. The parents say their daughter later admitted those allegations were false.
School officials reported the allegations to DCF without any valid basis, the lawsuit says.
DCF officials began an investigation and placed the girl in the home of a school sports coach, the parents say. During the investigation, they allege, a DCF social worker repeatedly harassed them about their religious beliefs and told them they needed "to evolve their religion" and "go with the times."
After the DCF found the allegations to be unsubstantiated, the girl remained with the coach instead of being returned to her home, the parents say.
The parents say they repeatedly told a DCF social worker they were upset with their daughter's behavior including her drug and alcohol use, not her sexuality.
The lawsuit alleges officials "engaged in a tireless campaign to undermine and sabotage (their) parental rights," keep them away from their daughter, and destroy their relationship with her.
The parents say officials' actions led their daughter to "completely abandon her family."