Sister of defendant in Tacony dungeon case sues city

Posted: October 25, 2013

THE CITY IS to blame for years of torture endured by Beatrice Weston at the hands of her aunt, Linda Ann Weston, according to a civil lawsuit stemming from the nightmarish Tacony dungeon case.

The lawsuit, filed last week in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia on behalf of Beatrice's mother, Vickie Weston, claims that the Department of Human Services took custody of Beatrice, then 10, let the court place her with a convicted murderer and then failed to check up on her.

The lawsuit, however, does not mention that Vickie Weston knew about her sister's criminal history and agreed to the placement during a Family Court proceeding in 2002.

"The reason why she gave [Beatrice] to her sister in the first place was because she suffered a traumatic head injury and did not think she could take care of her," Emeka Igwe, attorney for Vickie Weston, said during a telephone interview yesterday.

Igwe added that Vickie Weston only agreed to give her sister "temporary custody" of Beatrice. Social workers then lied to her, assuring her that "they were checking up" on her daughter and "she was fine," Igwe said.

"She tried to get answers but the city was very obstructive in giving her answers to how her daughter was doing," Igwe said.

In 1984, Linda Ann Weston was convicted of third-degree murder for imprisoning Vickie Weston's boyfriend in a closet and starving him to death. She was paroled in 1987.

For nearly a decade, beginning in 2002, Beatrice was "forcibly prostituted" and "regularly beaten, starved, and denied medical and dental care, as well as formal schooling," at the hands of her maternal aunt. Linda Ann Weston also made Beatrice "drink and bathe in her own urine," the lawsuit claims.

Authorities have accused Linda Ann Weston - who faces federal criminal charges - of imprisoning four mentally disabled adults in a grimy sub-basement in a Tacony apartment complex as part of a scheme to collect their welfare checks. In October 2011, police said they freed the captives and rescued Beatrice, now 21, from a Frankford home where she had been locked in a closet.

In addition to Linda Ann Weston, the lawsuit, which seeks more than $50,000 in damages, names as defendants the city of Philadelphia, a former DHS social worker, two lawyers who acted as child advocates for Beatrice, and child-welfare agency Intercultural Family Services. In an email, DHS spokeswoman Alicia Taylor said the agency does not comment on pending lawsuits. Deputy City Solicitor Rick Ames, who is named as a defendant, declined to comment.

 Twitter: @wendyruderman

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