There is a crisis in our nation with children and protective services.
Finally, a New York City man is suing the city and Child Protective Services claiming his life was ruined when he and his younger brother were removed from their parents’ home.
Matthew Rizzuto was 3 years old at the time, and his brother was less than 1 year old when they were removed. Apparently, the younger child hit his head while learning to walk. He was taken to Long Island Jewish Hospital, and they reported the injury to the Administration for Children’s Services, according to the lawsuit.
The ACS (and/or Child Protective Services) suspected abuse and in 2001 sent the boys, then living with their parents to live with their paternal grandparents.
After time, the fraternal grandparents maintained they could no longer care for the children. A nonprofit agency contracted by the city in 2002 then sent them to live in Connecticut with their maternal grandparents, Loretta and Samuel Antupit, according to the suit.
“Every day was anguish,” said Matthew’s dad, Donald Rizzuto, a lawyer representing his son, now 19, whom he barely knows.
The suit claims the Antupits dragged out the custody battle because they detested Donald, the father.
“Early on in the marriage Mrs. Antupit told her daughter, Stacey, that she should divorce Donald and abort Matthew,” court papers say.
Months stretched into years, a legal battle ensued and grew toxic over time. After one heated argument in September 2005, the Antupits got a restraining order against Donald. For the next eight months, Donald could only visit his children with under supervision. Parental alienation alone is abusive.
When the grandparents complained the Rizzutos were “abusive” to them during phone calls, a judge cut off communication between the boys and their parents completely for two years, according to the suit.
In 2010, after nine years in protective services, the boys were finally returned to Donald and Stacey by a judge, and got a chance to meet their baby brother, Nicholas, who is now 9.
“This case was an abomination,” Donald Rizzuto said. “It should never have gone this far. Justice delayed is justice denied.”
In addition to the ACS, the $36 million lawsuit also names the Antupits, the Legal Aid Society, which at one time represented the brothers, and the nonprofit that placed Michael and Peter, SCO Family of Services.
“I want to bring some reform to the system so that this gross abuse doesn’t happen again — just being in the system nine years,” Matthew Rizzuto said.
The boys’ grandfather, Samuel Antupit, denies encouraging the separation.
“We were simple bystanders,” he told The Post. “It was the courts and the agency that initiated all these things. We were up here in Farmington, Conn.”
A city law department spokesman on behalf of ACS said in a statement: “These allegations do not align with ACS’s core mission to protect vulnerable children.”
Legal Aid said the claim against the organization “lacks merit” and that their “representation of the children was entirely appropriate.”
SCO Family of Services declined to comment according to a December 31, 2017 New York Post article.
We are glad that these tragic stories against Child Protective Services and the ACS are beginning to be shared now publicly. The horrors of the broken system within Family Courts and the Department of Human Services, as well as the corrupt sub-contracting firms desperate for more federal funding need to be brought to light. The nations’ Family Court system needs to be criticized and reformed.