• State to pay $3 million to sex abuse victim

    By: David Ham


    The Department of Social and Health Services has agreed to settle with a sex abuse victim for failing to intervene when she was sexually abused as a child.
    The case with victim "R.R." was settled for $3 million and was filed in Pierce County Superior Court on April 13, 2012.
    "He had started abusing me at nine, and I ended up getting pregnant at eleven and ended up giving birth at twelve. Ten months and ten days later, I had my second son because nobody intervened. Nobody stopped it," said the sex abuse victim, who is now 32-years-old.
    R.R. said Child Protective Services knew she was at risk when she gave birth at a hospital in Spokane in 1995.
    CPS documents show that a case worker noted suspicions that R.R.’s baby was fathered by her mother’s boyfriend, Chris Hamburg. 
    She was 12, and he was significantly older. They all met here in Tacoma.  
    Yet, even though CPS had suspicions, no one stopped the man when he took them from Washington to Utah to Idaho.
    R.R. said she was too scared to tell even her mother or her brother about being raped.
    "[I] had the threats that most kids that are abused hear. I'll kill you or your mom or your brother," said R.R.
    Attorney Mike Pfau helped the victim win a $3-million settlement from DSHS for failing to step in.
    "I think there was a failure to investigate after warning sign after warning sign," said Pfau.
    DSHS emailed a statement on the settlement that read in part:
    "The issue was whether DSHS properly investigated this case, which came to the agency’s attention in 1995 when a hospital notified DSHS that a 12-year-old had given birth to a baby. The child stated the father was a student she met briefly at a school she had attended. Neither the child nor her mother disclosed any information that the child had been sexually abused. DSHS focused on the welfare of the baby, by providing parenting skill support for the girl, who was living with her mother."
    The victim said she escaped when she was 27-years-old, when she said Hamburg gave her son Internet access for his 14th birthday.
    She befriended someone online who could help her.
    "I ended up talking with someone from the Midwest, ended up forming kind of an emotional bond with him," said R.R.
    Hamburg hasn't been prosecuted in Washington because the statute of limitations for child rape has run out.
    That's not the case in Idaho, where he could still be prosecuted.
    "I'm hoping he ends up behind bars or he sees this, and honestly I hope he kills himself, that he does something that he's no longer a threat to anybody," said R.R.
    The State Attorney General's office said the settlement will be paid out in the next seven to fourteen days.
    R.R. said her only saving grace through this entire experience is her two sons.
    “There’s that part of me that says I don’t regret my kids. If I had to go through all that hell again for my kids, I would,” said R.R.

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