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Antioch sisters suing for missed chances to stop years of sexual abuse
Posted: 05/16/2012 10:17:00 AM PDT
ANTIOCH — Ranging in age from 9 to 16, six sisters had been sexually abused by their parents virtually every day since they were toddlers before finding hope in 1995 that their nightmare would end.
- Sisters, from left, Martha McKnelly, 26, of Pleasant Hill, Sara Dutro 28, of Suisun City, Amber Dutro, 32, of Antioch and sitting Glenda Stripes, 31, of Spokane, sitting, are photographed on Monday May 7, 2012 at the law office of O’Connor & Runckel & O’Malley LLP, in Walnut Creek, Calif. For over two decades, the six Dutro sisters–four biological sisters and two foster sisters who are biologically cousins, not pictured, were regularly raped, beaten and otherwise abused by their Antioch parents, Bruce “Zion” and Glenda Dutro. (Susan Tripp Pollard/Staff)
Instead, they say, it grew more horrific as the people they counted on to rescue them — police, child-welfare workers, their church pastor — failed to deliver.
A year after their parents were imprisoned for sex crimes spanning 20 years, the Dutro sisters — Glenda Stripes, Amber and Sarah Dutro, Martha McKnelly, Frances Smith and Christina Moore — are now suing the people and agencies they say failed to protect them as children by not following laws and procedures for handling child abuse.
Child Protective Services went to the Dutro sisters’ Antioch home Aug. 18, 1995, after police had garnered two confessions from their pedophile father because 14-year-old Glenda had disclosed to a church pastor that she was being molested. Had they been given a moment alone with social workers, the sisters say, they would have told them they had been tortured for 16 days in preparation of the CPS visit, after the pastor had tipped off their parents days before calling police.
But CPS, like police, never talked to them apart from their parents, and a light punishment for their rapist father only exacerbated their hellish existence.
“After that, the abuse got just that much worse,” Glenda Stripes, 31, said last week. “Instead of taking us out of hell, they stoked the flame,” said the eldest sister, 32-year-old Amber Dutro.
The lawsuit, filed in Contra Costa Superior Court last week against Contra Costa County, city of Antioch, Calvary Open Bible Church in Antioch, and seven individuals who are either current or former CPS, police department or church employees. It alleges the defendants were negligent and failed to fulfill state-mandated duties that, if done, would have spared the Dutro children years of further abuse.
One defendant, Calvary pastor Anthony Lee, is named for not contacting police or CPS when a teenage Sarah Dutro gave him a full history of the abuse in 2002 in an effort to stop her mother, Glenda Lea Dutro, the church’s youth adviser before her arrest, from hosting sleepover parties for children from the congregation at the Dutro house.