Riverside County social workers knowingly placed a violent and sexually deviant boy into five foster homes over a six-year period without informing any of the foster parents of his background, enabling him to rape at least five boys, a federal lawsuit alleges.
More than a half-dozen social workers and their supervisors were involved in placing David Stephen Jakubowski into foster homes across the Inland Empire from January 2009 through January 2015. They worked with foster family agencies, but failed to inform the agencies as well as the foster parents that Jakubowski had a proclivity for sexually inappropriate conduct with young boys since the age of 9, according to the suit.
“They had reason to know of his deviant behaviors and propensities, and they just kept moving him around without telling anybody,” said attorney Shawn McMillan, who filed the lawsuit on July 21 in U.S. District Court in Riverside on behalf of two of Jakubowski’s victims.
Twice, law enforcement intervened. And twice, Jakubowski was convicted of child rape, once as a juvenile and once as an adult. And yet he is scheduled to be released from custody within weeks, according to the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
McMillan represents biological brothers raped by Jakubowski in their Hemet home in 2013. He previously represented another victim who was raped in 2015 at another foster home and settled his lawsuit against the county for millions of dollars.
Officials at Riverside County DPSS declined to comment.
“While we cannot comment on the specifics of this case due to client privacy, our social workers are dedicated to best practices and are committed to ensuring that foster parents understand the needs and background surrounding each child,” said Gene Kennedy, a spokesman for the agency. “Protecting children is our top priority. We are saddened whenever a child suffers abuse or neglect.”
The alarms on Jakubowski first started sounding in 2007, when, according to the lawsuit, he was caught performing oral sex on another boy at his apartment complex. His mother began keeping him away from other boys and informed his school to do the same. That information was later shared with Riverside County social workers and documented in Jakubowski’s case file with the county, according to the lawsuit.
Jakubowski entered his first foster home in January 2009 and his second in April that year. In November 2010, at the suggestion of a social worker at Valley Oaks Foster Family Agency in Hemet, Riverside County social workers placed Jakubowski into the Hemet home of an unlicensed and uncertified foster mother who was willing to take him in, according to the lawsuit.
Five other children — four boys and one girl — resided at the home, and social workers provided the foster mother with a “Statement of Dangerous Propensities” regarding Jakubowski. But they did not disclose his history of sexually deviant behavior, especially with younger boys, the lawsuit alleges.
According to Riverside County’s policy, social workers are to share with caregivers “information about any known or suspected dangerous behavior of the child.” And not only is it county policy, such disclosure is required under state and federal law.
Beginning in 2011 or 2012, Jakubowski repeatedly sexually assaulted and/or raped his four foster brothers, locking them in the bedroom, placing a mattress against the door so they couldn’t escape, and sexually assaulting them, according to the lawsuit. He punched and kicked them and held them down if they tried to get away, and threatened to stab or assault them if they told anyone, according to the lawsuit.
First criminal case
When one of the victims reported the abuse to his mother in January 2013, the mother reported it to the county, and the Riverside County sheriff’s Hemet station was called to investigate. However, social workers Kristen Preston and Michael Huser didn’t believe the children and thought they concocted the story, according to the lawsuit.
During the criminal investigation, Preston and her supervisor, Carrie Mosiello, remained adamant that the victims could be lying, and went on record saying that in Juvenile Court, according to the lawsuit.
Preston’s and Mosiello’s instincts, however, could not have been more misguided, because Jakubowski admitted his crimes to the investigating sheriff’s sergeant in a March 2013 interview.
“David was remarkably honest with me. He admitted to me that he sexually assaulted and molested his four foster brothers,” McNish said in a declaration filed in connection with the litigation. He said Jakubowski also acknowledged using a mattress to block the bedroom door when he raped his four foster brothers or forced them to orally copulate him, he said.
“David chose to sexually assault his younger foster brothers — as opposed to his foster sister — because it was easier for David to convince his younger foster brothers to do it,” McNish said in his declaration.
The most chilling part of his interview with Jakubowski, McNish said, came toward the end of it.
“When I asked David if he were left alone with another unsuspecting young boy, would he sexually assault that child, he coolly answered, ‘yes,’ ” McNish said in his declaration.
Jakubowski, who was 15 at the time, pleaded guilty in April 2013 to five felony counts of child rape. A judge declared him a ward of the court, and Jacubowski was transferred from Southwest Juvenile Hall in Murrieta to Trinity Youth Services in Apple Valley, a residential youth treatment facility, according to the lawsuit.
Jakubowski spent less than two years in custody for raping four boys, but it was not clear why he was released from custody so soon. And as he told McNish in 2013, it wasn’t long before he would prey on another boy.
A new home, a new victim
In January 2015, Riverside County social workers — working with A Coming of Age Foster Family Agency in Riverside — placed Jakubowski, then 16, into the foster home of Lisa Castro. As before, the county social workers did not inform staff at A Coming of Age nor Castro of Jakubowski’s extensive history of sexually inappropriate behavior with younger boys, or his conviction for child rape at his prior foster home in Hemet, according to the lawsuit.
About eight months later, in September 2015, Jakubowski raped a boy who had been placed in Castro’s home a month prior. That boy was moved to Castro’s home because he had been sexually abused at his former foster home, according to the lawsuit.
Jakubowski subsequently was charged in that case and convicted in adult court of two counts of child rape. He was sentenced in March 2016 to 10 years in prison, said John Hall, a spokesman for the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office.
McMillan also represented Jakubowski’s 2015 victim in a separate lawsuit, filed in 2016, which he said the county settled in November 2019 for $2.9 million.
In a written declaration, Castro said social worker Sonya Fowler provided her a Statement of Dangerous Propensities and case plan summary for Jakubowski when he was placed in her home in January 2015, but those documents did not disclose his history of sexually deviant behavior with young boys, nor his prior conviction.
She said it was not until Jakubowski was arrested and booked into juvenile hall that she learned from social worker Tamar Lawson of his prior conviction for child rape.
“I was shocked, extremely upset, and disappointed,” Castro said in her declaration. “This was the first time that anyone had ever revealed the pertinent details regarding David’s conviction and prior sexual assaults involving younger boys. If I had known about David’s prior convictions and history of sexually molesting young boys, I never would have accepted his placement into my home.”
Castro could not be reached for comment.
Jakubowski, listed as a high-risk sex offender on the Megan’s Law database, is serving his sentence at Valley State Prison in Chowchilla. Terry Thornton, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, said he is scheduled to be released from custody in early September.
Asked why he was being released five years early, Thornton said Jakubowski earned more than a year of credit for time served before he was sentenced, credits while awaiting sentencing, and credits for participating in work and education programs in prison.
How could it happen?
Alandria Saifer, a San Diego-based industrial and organizational psychologist specializing in workplace culture, said such communication breakdowns or lapses in judgment in the child protective services system could be attributed to a combination of factors.
For example, the corporate culture of the system involves a lot of moving parts — supervisors, social workers, caregivers, foster family agencies and heavy caseloads. This often can result in communication breakdowns and children falling through the cracks.
Social workers also often experience a psychological phenomenon called cognitive dissonance, in which they reconcile their actions for the greatest good of the child they are placing with a caregiver, despite potential negative outcomes. It can give an appearance of common sense and caution flying out the window.
“They can rationalize any decision they make because they are protecting the child, even if that means they are putting other children in danger,” Saifer said. “It’s not a conscious, malicious decision. It’s a separation of the information. Their initial plan is to get them intro a foster home, in the system where the child is being taken care of.”
Saifer, however, can’t think of a legitimate reason why social workers would fail to inform foster parents of Jakubowski’s history of sexual deviance, or his prior conviction for raping four boys, especially if that information were in his CPS case file.
“I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t tell the foster parents,” she said. “That throws me.”
Source: Orange County Register