The mother of one of the captives in what came to be known as the Tacony
‘dungeon’ case has filed a federal lawsuit against the City of Philadelphia and various officials over allegations that officials negligently placed her daughter in the care of the girl’s aunt, Linda Ann Weston, despite the woman’s prior criminal convictions.
Vickie Weston, whose daughter, Beatrice Weston, was one of the people held captive by Linda Weston in the basement of an apartment house in Philadelphia’s Tacony neighborhood in a case that garnered widespread media coverage, filed a federal civil complaint on Oct. 17 at the Eastern District of Pennsylvania against the city and various officials.
The suit comes more than a year after Beatrice Weston filed her own federal civil action against the city and others over allegations that she was improperly placed into Linda Weston’s care earlier last decade despite her aunt’s 1983 third-degree murder conviction for torturing, beating and starving her sister’s boyfriend to death.
Beatrice Weston, who will turn 22 this December, was one of a handful of people who were allegedly imprisoned and held captive by Weston, who was out to steal the individuals’ government disabilities benefits.
Weston was accused of beating, drugging and starving the captives for more than a decade, managing to elude law enforcement due to her constantly moving from state to state.
Weston was originally scheduled to go on trial in Philadelphia’s Common Pleas Court earlier this year, but Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams ended up dropping the state charges after federal prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania handed up a 196-count racketeering indictment against Weston charging her with federal crimes relating to the fraud scheme.
U.S. Attorney Zane Memeger previously said that Weston, her daughter and three other people ran a criminal enterprise by detaining the 10 adults, all of who suffered from developmental disabilities.
Vickie Weston’s lawsuit contains near identical allegations as those alleged by Beatrice Weston in the daughter’s previously filed suit.
Both lawsuits fault a city social worker named Nefertiti Savoy for recommending that Beatrice Weston be placed in the care of Linda Weston.
Like the prior lawsuit, the latest complaint alleges that the defendants ignored Linda Weston’s “violent and disqualifying criminal history” when it was recommended that the then-10-year-old girl go live with her aunt back in 2002.
And like the case filed before it, Vickie Weston’s suit alleges that Richard Ames, an assistant Philadelphia solicitor, also “affirmatively recommended” that Beatrice Weston be placed in her aunt’s custody.
The recent lawsuit also says that an entity named Intercultural Family Services Inc. failed to inform Philadelphia Family Court of Linda Weston’s criminal history of abuse, “which made the placement of plaintiff’s daughter in her care, manifestly unsafe and dangerous.
“Despite the fact that Linda Ann Weston was not legally permitted to take custody of Beatrice Weston, defendant IFS, never communicated this fact to the court and instead, actively encouraged the placement,” the lawsuit reads.
All of the defendants in the suit are accused of negligently and recklessly failing to follow the requirements of the Child Protective Services Law, failing to report Linda Weston’s criminal history, and failing to adequately perform the Services for Children in their Own Home.
Defendant IFS had been contracted to provide the latter to Beatrice Weston.
The complaint goes on to allege that during the decade of Beatrice Weston’s captivity in the apartment house, the city and various officials “affirmatively misrepresented” to Vickie Weston and the courts that home visits were being conducted and that Beatrice Weston was in a safe condition.
“This testimony stands in clear contradiction of the fact that Plaintiff had great difficulty locating and reuniting with her daughter during this period,” the complaint states. “This testimony stands in clear contradiction of police and media reports that Beatrice Weston and other victims of Linda Ann Weston, were repeatedly moved around, including outside the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”
In addition to the beatings and starvation, the suit claims that Beatrice Weston was forcibly prostituted by Linda Weston and that she was regularly denied medical and dental care, as well as formal schooling.
Beatrice Weston was also allegedly forced by her aunt to drink and bathe in her own urine.
As a result of her daughter’s ordeal, Vickie Weston claims she has suffered, and will continue to suffer from, anxiety and mental anguish, depression, mental disturbances, loss of well-being and other intangible losses.
The suit contains various counts of civil rights violations in addition to various negligence claims.
Vickie Weston seeks more than $50,000 in damages, plus interest and costs.
The plaintiff is being represented by Philadelphia attorney Emeka Igwe.
The federal case number is 2:13-cv-06073-RBS.