Ashley’s son celebrated his 12th birthday last month, but to his mother it sometimes seems like he is so much older.
The boy, once outgoing, is now quiet and reserved to the point that his teachers bring it up to his mother .
Ashley traces it all back to Valentine’s Day 2017, the day an older boy raped her son at a Las Vegas group home for foster children.
“He wasn’t the son that I knew,” she said. “It’s almost like he had been in prison.”
Ashley and her son are suing the Eagle Quest foster care agency, company owners Ivan Ray Tippetts and Leslie Tippetts, and Clark County, which licenses foster homes. The Review-Journal is not publishing Ashley’s last name to protect the identity of her son.
According to the lawsuit, the boy was 10 when he was raped. His foster parents are accused of shirking training and security protocols required to run a group home for treating juvenile sex offenders.
“They were literally asleep when this thing happened, and they had their door shut,” said the family’s attorney, Andre Lagomarsino. “They are housing sex offenders together; they need to be following heightened procedures.”
County officials declined to comment on the case, but this month county commissioners voted to pay a $75,000 settlement to the family.
Eagle Quest operations director David Doyle said the county investigated the foster home following the attack and found no licensing violations. The foster care agency is fully cooperating with authorities in the ongoing lawsuit.
“We have confidence and faith in the judicial proceedings,” he said.
The boy entered foster care in August 2016 after he allegedly sexually assaulted his younger sister, according to court filings.
The first foster home that the county placed him in was in North Las Vegas. It too was run by Eagle Quest, a private, for-profit agency that operates dozens of licensed foster homes in Nevada.
Lagomarsino said the boy was taken from his family because the county’s Department of Juvenile Justice Services forbade him from sharing a home with his younger sister, and he had no one else in Las Vegas to live with.
Ashley said that November she left her four other children in the care of their live-in grandfather and moved into a Siegel Suites apartment to get her son out of foster care. But she ran out of money for rent less than two weeks later, and the boy was returned to Eagle Quest’s custody.
“Endless times I begged and pleaded for us to go down different avenues,” she said. “The answer was always no.”
After living at Siegel Suites, the boy was sent to a Las Vegas group home near the intersection of Smoke Ranch Road and Decatur Boulevard. He shared a room with a 14-year-old boy.
According to the lawsuit, the teenage boy had not received a juvenile psychosexual evaluation. The lawsuit also accuses the home’s foster parents, Shera Williams and Tomisha Horn, of not having the minimum training to become foster parents.
The teenager raped the younger boy early Valentine’s Day in the closet of their shared bedroom.
The younger boy reported the attack to his foster parents later that morning. Ashley said her phone rang shortly after 5 a.m. One of the foster parents was on the line, crying and apologizing.
“I felt like life was sucked out of me,” Ashley said. “I was catatonic.”
Following the attack, the boy was treated at Sunrise Hospital and released back into his mother’s care.
The family has since moved to Texas. Sister and brother are once again living under the same roof.
Ashley said she still does not know why her son was allowed to come home only after the attack. But she is confident that the deck is stacked against families that don’t have the resources to rehouse their children.
“It took this to happen for my son to be free, and I never got an answer why,” she said. “It all could have been prevented.”
Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article misidentified Siegel Suites. The article has been updated to reflect the business rents apartments.