New lawsuit claims Union Co., Gaston Co. DSS negligent in Wanda Sue Larson abuse case

DSS agencies sued in Wanda Sue Larson abuse case

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - A new federal lawsuit claims officials at Union County Department of Social Services and the Gaston County Department of Social Services are responsible for abuse suffered by a boy who was found chained to a porch with a dead chicken around his neck at the home of Wanda Sue Larson in November 2013.

Larson, who was a supervisor with Union County DSS at the time of her arrest, was the foster parent of the boy. Both Larson and her longtime, live-in boyfriend Dorian Harper have pleaded guilty to criminal charges stemming from abuse suffered by the boy found chained to the porch and other children who lived in the home.

WBTV has previously reported details about claims of physical and sexual abuse suffered by the children.

“Well, sometimes they just used their hands. Sometimes they’d throw other things. Sometimes they’d just, you know, throw me. Or slam me to the ground,” the boy told WBTV reporter Pam Escobar in an exclusive interview in 2015.

The boy, who WBTV has not identified because of the abuse he suffered and because he is a minor, has also previously disclosed sexual abuse while in Larson’s care.

Specifically, the disclosure of sexual abuse was made to a therapist nearly four years ago.

The therapist, with the boy’s permission, shared the details of his account with his mother. His mother recorded the conversation, in which she is heard audibly reacting to the gruesome details of what her son said he was subjected to.

The details are graphic.

“He (Dorian Harper) made him touch him and he touched (the boy),” the therapist told the boy’s mother. “He would inject their penises with growth hormones.”

In the new federal lawsuit filed on Tuesday, attorneys who represent a guardian ad litem acting on the boy’s behalf claim the both Union County DSS and Gaston County DSS could have acted sooner to uncover and stop the abuse.

“The factual support for the plaintiff’s claims in part comes from the multiple, missed opportunities that the defendants had to discover the abuse and neglect of children in the Larson-Harper Foster Home, including J.G., when reports of abuse or neglect were made while Defendant Gaston County was overseeing the licensing of the Larson-Harper Foster Home and while Defendant Gaston County and then Defendant Union County were responsible for investigating claims of abuse or neglect of children in the Larson-Harper foster Home," the lawsuit says.

The complaint then includes a list of five specific instances where complaints were made to the DSS agencies but ignored.

The lawsuit alleges that Larson used her position as a supervisor at Union County DSS to manipulate the foster care system in order to maintain custody of the boy and, later, to quash an investigation into the boy’s care.

“Upon information and belief, Defendant Larson used her connection, friendships and associations with UCDSS to manipulate the investigation by Mecklenburg County DSS," the complaint says of a forensic evaluation Union County DSS asked Mecklenburg County DSS into the agency’s handling of Larson’s foster care case.

The complaint also says a “same-day, internal decision within Defendant Larson’s CPS unit was made not to open an investigation” into a report of potential child abuse or neglect reported by a Union County Sheriff’s Deputy at Larson’s home in December 2012.

Emails to spokesmen for both Union County DSS and Gaston County DSS after hours on Tuesday went unreturned at press time.

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