April 3, 2001 (CHICAGO) – A federal judge has found that Illinois investigations of alleged child abuse have led to far too many false accusations that forced teachers or daycare workers to spend years clearing themselves.
U.S. District Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer, in a ruling handed down Monday, ordered the Department of Children and Family Services to work out new procedures with the lawyers who brought a class-action suit. The judge set a 60-day deadline.
The plaintiffs said that three-quarters of those involved in substantiated allegations of abuse or neglect were eventually exonerated. But they said that they were barred from working with children, often for years, thus losing their jobs and depriving Illinois of qualified child-care workers or foster parents.
In one case, a 10-year-old girl was accused of molesting children at a daycare center in her family’s home because she helped some of the youngsters pull up their underpants. For months, she was barred from the house while the daycare center was open and was eventually found innocent of any wrongdoing.
In her decision, Pallmeyer called for a higher standard of proof.