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Crime, Law and Justice
Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

Washington Pays Record $9.75M To Settle Child Abuse Case

The state of Washington has agreed to pay a record amount to settle a case of child abuse and neglect.

The nearly $10 million settlement announced Friday involves five Clark County, Washington, siblings who were starved and beaten by their parents over several years.

The lawyer for the children described the case as a “living nightmare.” The four brothers and one sister were imprisoned, starved, and beaten bloody with a piece of lumber, according to the claim filed by the lawyer on behalf of the children.

When police entered the family’s Vancouver home in 2011 they found the refrigerator chained shut, a lock on the children’s bedroom door and evidence they’d been surviving on canned food hidden from their parents.

The abuse went on for years despite numerous calls and reports to Washington’s Department of Social and Health Services. In a statement, DSHS says it settled the case because its “standard of practice” was not adequate in this case leading to “horrific criminal abuse” of the children.

The parents are now serving lengthy prison sentences.

DSHS recent settled two other unrelated child abuse and neglect cases involving a total of 12 children. The total payout in those cases totals nearly $17 million combined.