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Girl Abused, Infected With AIDS While Under State Care

June 21, 1992

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) _ A 9-year-old girl diagnosed with AIDS earlier this year had suffered years of sexual abuse and came under the scrutiny of state social workers as early as 1988, medical records show.

Prosecutors said they had begun a criminal investigation and were interviewing the girl’s relatives along with employees of the state Health and Rehabilitative Services in Jacksonville.

The girl, who was not identified, had previously contracted other sexually transmitted diseases but was not removed from her family until March, one month after she was found to be infected with the AIDS.

″We are cooperating in any way we can,″ the state agency’s district administrator, Lee Johnson, said Friday. ″We’re all about the truth.″

He declined to discuss the case, citing confidentiality laws.

Medical records obtained with the family’s consent show the girl was brought to University Medical Center in 1988 on a Health and Rehabilitative Services referral of physical abuse with a history of sexual abuse.

A year later, at age 6, she was diagnosed as having gonorrhea and healed lacerations indicating chronic sexual abuse, a police report said.

Her grandmother, who was caring for the girl, told investigators that the girl might have been assaulted while visiting her mother, who lived with two men and had frequent male visitors.

In 1989, using anatomical dolls, the girl described explicit sexual activity and indicated she had been involved in such activity. She mentioned several names, but police suspended the investigation for lack of evidence.

The child was again taken to the hospital in 1990 for vaginal warts, another sexually transmitted disease.

In 1991, medical records show an HRS worker discussed the case with a therapist, who was providing outpatient counseling to the girl and her family.

The social worker said the child was ″not at risk for further physical or sexual abuse″ if she remained in the care of her grandmother.

In February, the mother’s boyfriend, Levon King, was arrested for capital sexual battery against the girl. A few days later, she tested positive for the AIDS. King tested negative for the virus and remains in the Duval County Jail awaiting trial.

The girl had been living with her mother when her infection was diagnosed. She was placed in foster care in March.

″The facts of this case, as far as abuse goes, are shocking,″ said Assistant State Attorney Dale Campion. ″That doesn’t mean anyone was criminally negligent. But it is under investigation.″