Echos of the Masha Allen case play out in a New York courtroom

I first wrote about the disturbing case of adoptive parent Judith Leekin back in 2008. Now new details of that case are emerging which share shocking similarities to Masha Allen’s second adoption. According to the New York Times:

More than 30 years ago, a Queens foster mother was investigated and cited for scalding a boy in her care. But despite that finding, the city did nothing in the decades that followed to prevent the woman, Judith Leekin, from carrying out one of the most brazen and disturbing child welfare schemes in recent memory.

The failure of child welfare officials to bar Ms. Leekin from the system after that 1980 episode is one of the most striking revelations in new court reports filed in a Brooklyn lawsuit. Ms. Leekin was arrested in 2007; the authorities determined she had adopted 11 disabled New York foster children using aliases, then moved to Florida, where she subjected them to years of abuse — all the while collecting $1.68 million in subsidies from New York City until 2007.

The 1980 episode, for example, occurred at Ms. Leekin’s home on 226th Street in Laurelton, Queens, the reports show. When Ms. Leekin later adopted 11 children under four aliases over an eight-year period, she listed the same address; it was never cross-checked, the reports say.

The documents include a deposition by Ms. Leekin, taken in a Fort Lauderdale prison, in which she suggests a possible motive for her use of false identities: her concern that she would be linked to the 1980 abuse episode.

In court documents, they depict Ms. Leekin as a sophisticated serial criminal whose extraordinary scheme fooled varied professionals and could not have been foreseen or detected, given the practices and capabilities of the time.

In a jailhouse deposition in October, she came across as defensive and combative as she admitted hitting children as punishment, the 184-page transcript shows. She acknowledged being the subject of the early abuse report, and conceded she “probably” later used aliases out of concern that the earlier episode would have otherwise surfaced.

But she said that as she began adopting children under aliases — “Anne Marie Williams,” “Cheryl Graham,” “Michelle Wells” and “Eastlyn Giraud” — she was never asked for her passport, birth certificate or any other form of identification.

“Yes, I did some wrong things, sir, but they didn’t do their investigation,” she said, adding she had been made “a scapegoat.”

“They had references. Did they check out the references? No,” Ms. Leekin said. “You convicted me. You sentenced me. And now you want to come here to get a deposition from me, for what? The city has to take some kind of responsibility.”

Throughout the process, Ms. Leekin offered conflicting or false responses when asked about her employment history, income, education, assets and religion.

Mr. Safarik, the other plaintiff’s expert, wrote: “Had the defendants simply verified the self-reported information, her lies would have been uncovered.”

Read the entire story here.

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