Father Sues State in Toddler's Death

Says they failed to protect child whose stepfather is accused of killing her

The father of a 2-year-old girl who died in February has filed a lawsuit against the state of Vermont and the state Department for Children and Families, saying they breached their duties to protect the child, whose stepfather is accused of killing her.

Willis Sheldon of Rutland filed the lawsuit Thursday in Rutland County Superior Court. He's asking for unspecified damages and a jury trial. A call to DCF wasn't immediately returned.

Dezirae Sheldon of Poultney died after arriving at a hospital with severe head trauma. Records show she had a history of child abuse injuries; her mother was convicted last year of cruelty to a child.

Dezirae was in state custody prior to her death; an investigation found miscommunication between agencies.

The stepfather pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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