The Santa Clara County Department of Family and Children’s Services has been slapped with a $400 million lawsuit by the Church of Scientology, which alleges that the agency bilked millions of dollars from state and federal social security funds by filing false claims.
The church alleges that the department charged both state and federal social security programs for taking care of children that never existed and for conducting therapy sessions that never took place.
The state Department of Justice and California Attorney General Bill Lockyer reviewed evidence provided by the parties and declined to intervene in the litigation earlier this month.
“The agency has never fabricated any children or cases,” Greta Helm, director of government relations and planning, said on behalf of the Department of Family and Children’s Services Wednesday.
She declined, however, to comment on the specific charges, citing the pending litigation.
“We have been receiving complaints against DFCS for several years,” Karl Hoffower, president of the scientology-established South Bay Chapter of the Citizens Commission on Human Rights, said in a statement last week. “Parents have brought evidence of improper conduct on the part of social workers that never made sense until now. By this suit, it appears that DFCS social workers have a monetary motivation behind their actions.”
The Department of Family and Children’s Services received 17,000 reports of children abuse and neglect in Santa Clara County in 2005. About 900 children were removed from their homes and a total of about 2,000 children were living in out-of-home care in 2005, according to Helm.
The number of cases filed by the department with state and federal social security programs could not be disclosed because of the pending litigation, Helm said.
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