SAN FRANCISCO (KGET) — Eighteen months after Orrin and Orson West disappeared from the home of their adoptive parents in California City, the boys’ biological mother is breaking her silence.
“This is really hard to talk about,” said an emotional Ryan Dean, speaking to the public for the first time at a news conference in San Francisco since the day her biological sons went missing. “You guys ruined my life.”
Joined by her parents, Dana Moorer and Leif Dean, the family announced the federal lawsuit filed Friday against the state Department of Social Services, Kern County Human Services, and Jacqueline and Trezell West.
The Dean-Moorers seek $40 million in damages for alleged civil rights violations. The family says their lawsuit against the state and county stems from the decision to remove the children from their biological parents eventually placing them in a dangerous situation.
“My family and I have been treated unfairly,” said Moorer. “No apologies, no respect, there is nothing.”
Dean’s father, Leif, says the tragedy they’ve had to live in is one they hope no other family has ever experienced.
“I hate that this happened to my daughter,” said Dean. “This is my baby girl here, there is nothing else to do than just mourn and ensure that Kern County pays for their negligence.”
Representing the Moorer-Dean’s is San Francisco-based civil rights attorney Waukeen McCoy. McCoy believes the actions taken by county agencies to remove the children are in direct violation of the Family First Act of 2016.
“Each of them [county, state, Wests] interfered,” said McCoy. “With the reunification of and the preservation of the family.”
In April, McCoy filed a claim on behalf of Dean and Moorer. Since then, McCoy says the county rejected the claim and instead delegated the matter to county counsel, and the state failed to respond.
In 2016, Dean was suspected of child abuse after her she took her oldest son Orrin to Memorial Hospital for a broken leg. According to the suit, Dean filed reunification requests and completed parenting classes to regain custody but had no luck. In 2017, she gave birth to Orson only to have him removed a week later.
“To lose my child and to take my second child for a week and then lose him, it hurts,” said Dean.
In late 2018, both boys were removed from a foster home and placed with the Wests. Afterward, Dean noticed during visits that her children seemed scared and were losing weight, and Orson had scratches on his face, the suit says.
“I just want answers,” said Moorer. “Why? Why Kern County? What was the purpose of not giving them to me?”
In the suit, Moorer claims to have filed a request to have the children placed with her, but in 2019 the department revoked Dean’s parental rights “without explanation,” and denied Moorer’s request.
17 News has attempted to get a comment from the county but has yet to respond.
The boys’ adoptive parents, Trezell and Jacqueline West are charged with murder and other offenses in their deaths. They’re due back in court next month.
“Placing the children in the home of the Wests’ was a state-created danger,” said McCoy. “My clients want to make certain that this gut-wrenching loss does not happen to another family in the future.”