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Haleigh Poutre's mother seeks documents from DSS

Email|Print|Single Page| Text size + By Patricia Wen
Globe Staff / May 15, 2008

Lawyers for the biological mother of 14-year-old Haleigh Poutre, who nearly died in her adoptive home from alleged child abuse, yesterday asked a Suffolk County Superior Court judge to force state officials to turn over two key documents that they say will show the girl was wrongfully removed from her first home.

‘‘She should never have lost custody,’’ said Wendy Murphy, a lawyer representing Allison Avrett of Agawam in a lawsuit seeking $12 million from the state.

Murphy is seeking two child-protection reports held by the Depart8ment of Social Services that were part of the state’s case alleging Avrett was an unfit mother.

Lawyers from the attorney general’s office, who are representing the Department of Social Services, asked Judge Linda Giles to dismiss the entire case, saying that Avrett voluntarily consented to allowing her older sister, Holli Strickland, to adopt Haleigh at age 7 and that Avrett no longer has legal standing to seek redress on behalf of 8Haleigh for what happened to her.

The judge said she would rule later.

Avrett’s case is one of many lawsuits filed since Haleigh lapsed into a coma in fall 2005. Prosecutors say she was brutally beaten by Strickland and her husband, 8Jason Strickland, in Westfield.

Avrett acknowledges that she was a troubled single mother, but she said she was never accused of directly harming Haleigh and should not have been pressured by DSS into surrendering Haleigh to her sister. Avrett has said that DSS naively believed her sister’s fabricated story that Haleigh was being abused by Avrett’s boyfriend.

Avrett argued that if DSS had reunified her with Haleigh, the child would have been safe.

The girl has since emerged from the coma and is being treated at a rehabilitation hospital.

Patricia Wen can be reached at wen@globe.com.

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