One of the alleged victims of Linda Ann Weston, the woman who made headlines last fall for
allegedly imprisoning and holding captive a handful of people in order to collect their governmental benefits, has filed suit against her captor and the City of Philadelphia.
Beatrice Weston, the 20-year-old niece of Linda Ann Weston, claims in her civil filing that the city improperly placed the plaintiff in her aunt’s care earlier last decade despite the woman’s sordid history.
Linda Ann Weston and three accomplices are scheduled to go on trial early next year on various counts including kidnapping, assault, false imprisonment and conspiracy.
Her tale gripped the region last year when police discovered captives, including Beatrice Weston and several mentally disabled adults, living in squalid conditions in the basement of an apartment building in Philadelphia’s Tacony section.
The saga quickly became referred to as the Tacony dungeon case.
In her lawsuit, which was filed Aug. 20 at the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas by attorneys from the Philadelphia firm Kline & Specter, Beatrice Weston faults the city for placing her in the care of her aunt in 2002.
At the time, a city social worker named Nefertiti Savoy, who is named as a co-defendant in the suit, recommended that the plaintiff be placed in her aunt’s care, the complaint alleges.
Richard Ames, a lawyer working with the City Solicitor’s Office, also “affirmatively recommended” that Beatrice Weston be placed with her aunt, the lawsuit says.
Ames is named as a co-defendant in the suit, as is the City of Philadelphia and Linda Ann Weston.
Linda Ann Weston was convicted of third degree murder in the 1981 starvation death of her sister’s boyfriend, background information on the case shows.
The woman was convicted in January 1983 of beating the man with a hammer and leaving him to starve to death, the record shows.
The lawsuit claims the defendants in the current case ignored Linda Ann Weston’s “violent and disqualifying criminal history” when it was recommended that Beatrice Weston go to live with her aunt 10 years ago.
The suit states that based on the recommendation of the city, a Family Court judge in Philadelphia entered an order providing temporary legal custody of Beatrice Weston to Linda Ann Weston.
A court transcript shows that the city’s Department of Human Services never even investigated Linda Ann Weston’s home prior to placing Beatrice Weston there, the suit claims.
The city failed to inform the Family Court of Linda Ann Weston’s criminal history of abuse, the complaint alleges, which made the placement of Beatrice Weston “manifestly unsafe and dangerous.”
The suit states that prior to transferring custody of a minor, the Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law mandates that an agency must perform a criminal background check on the adult taking the child in.
“Defendants, City of Philadelphia and Nefertiti Savoy, failed to follow the requirements of the Child Protective Services Law, failed to conduct a home investigation, failed to arrange behavior and health evaluations, failed to arrange for appropriate interventions, and failed to adequately perform any of the services they were ordered to perform on August 16, 2002,” the lawsuit states.
The complaint, which says the defendants demonstrated a “reckless disregard” for the safety of Beatrice Weston, goes on to claim that the girl was imprisoned, regularly beaten, starved, forcibly prostituted, and denied medical and dental care, as well as formal schooling, during the next decade.
Beatrice was even forced to drink and bathe in her own urine, the suit claims.
The lawsuit also claims that the city received numerous complaints over the years that Linda Ann Weston was holding children captive in her basement, but that the complaints were never answered.
Beatrice Weston was located and rescued in October of last year, with Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey telling media outlets that the so-called Tacony dungeon case was the “worst abuse I have ever seen in my entire career in law enforcement.”
The lawsuit contains various counts of civil rights violations, as well as counts of assault and battery and false imprisonment.
The plaintiff seeks damages in excess of $50,000, exclusive of pre-judgment interest, costs and post-judgment interest.
The case ID number is 120801896.