The mother of a 9-year-old boy killed by his abusive father in a 2007 murder-suicide is suing, claiming child welfare workers failed to remove him from his father’s home despite a prosecutor’s warnings. Rebecca Jasinski, of Saginaw County, contends that her son, Nicholas Braman, could have been saved if the state had removed him from his father’s home in Montcalm County, according to a lawsuit filed earlier this month in federal court in Grand Rapids.
Oliver Braman killed himself, his wife and Nicholas by filling a room with carbon monoxide nearly three years ago. Their deaths came days after Oliver Braman failed to appear in court for sentencing in a child abuse case in which he was convicted of using a cattle prod to discipline two other sons.
A month before the deaths, the Montcalm County prosecutor’s office urged the state to get Nicholas out of the home but nothing happened, according to the lawsuit.
“The death of Nicholas Daniel Braman would have been avoided if defendants had simply done what they were obligated to do by law to protect (Nicholas) from further abuse and neglect,” attorney Gregory Wix said in the lawsuit.
A watchdog inside the department, the Office of Children’s Ombudsman, investigated and found that child welfare workers should have stepped in to help Nicholas as soon as they became aware of the abuse of siblings, the lawsuit contends.
The state Department of Human Services has acknowledged the boy should have been removed and placed with Jasinski, who lived 80 miles away. The agency declined to comment on the lawsuit.
“We’re very concerned about the safety of children,” spokesman Edward Woods III told The Grand Rapids Press.
The boy’s death led to a new law that established rules for how child welfare workers in different counties must communicate, among other things.
The lawsuit claims gross negligence and names seven people who are current or former employees of the department and its Child Protective Services arm. It seeks an unspecified amount of money exceeding $75,000, the threshold for a civil case in federal court.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)