LEWIS COUNTY, Wash. - Two Lewis County girls are suing the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services claiming the agency failed to act to stop years of abuse and neglect by their mother despite repeated warnings.
An attorney for Kristeena and Katie Auman filed the suit in Thurston County Superior Court. Steve Bulzomi said DSHS received 24 reports of neglect over a period of six to seven years at the family's home near Chehalis.
"DSHS decided that all were unfounded and allowed them to continue to be neglected and abused by their mother," Bulzomi said.
Katie Auman was so malnourished and neglected she suffered from a form of dwarfism.
Bulzomi said Auman was also forced to tend to dozens of animals hoarded by her mother. "She was made to work as a slave to feed and clean up after the animals at her mother's puppy mill/farm," said Bulzomi.
The mother, Theresa Hutton, was convicted in a 2009 trial and sentenced to four years in prison. According to a report posted on kirotv.com at the time of the conviction, Hutton refused to admit her guilt.
"The amount of cruelty that was involved in this case <<is? was?>> almost unimaginable," said Deputy Prosecutor Colin Hayes.
"You don't seem to get it. Normal people just don't treat people that way," said Katie's grandmother, Joleen Roy.
The abuse took place at a home and property in rural Lewis County where Theresa Hutton had taken in dozens of dogs, cats and horses.
County animal control raided the property and had to euthanize many of the dogs because they carried a highly contagious and fatal canine disease. Her daughter Katie was forced to feed all the animals before school and often attended class covered in mud and animal feces.
"You know you didn't want Katie from day one, but your sick, twisted mind did not want anyone else to have her," said Katie's aunt and guardian, Merry Auman-Music.
Theresa Hutton's only response in court was to call the charges lies.
"That was particularly joyous to see her walk out in handcuffs and shackles," Roy said.
Katie weighed just 60 pounds in the sixth grade, but is now healthy and growing. She is doing well in school and sports.