BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — A claim filed by the biological mother of Orrin and Orson West seeks $40 million from the Kern County Department of Human Services, alleging negligence on its part contributed to their deaths.
The claim, a precursor to a lawsuit, was filed April 6, about a month after the boys’ adoptive parents — Trezell and Jacqueline West — were charged with murder. The boys are believed to have been killed three months before reported missing on Dec. 21, 2020.
Their bodies have not been found.
Ryan Dean, the biological mother of Orrin, 4 and Orson 3, tried to get her children returned, and noticed differences after they started living with the Wests, according to the claim filed by McCoy Law Firm, based in San Francisco.
“In November 2018, Ms. Dean wrote a letter expressing her concerns about the lack of proper care her children were receiving while in the care of the Wests, but that nothing came of it,” the document says.
The claims says Dean noticed her children had lost weight and seemed scared, and Orson had scratches on his face.
It goes on to say Dean’s mother, Dana Moorer filed requests to have the boys placed with her. The Department of Human Services revoked Dean’s parental rights and denied Moorer’s requests.
The Wests fostered the children until September 2020, when they adopted them.
The claim alleges the department unlawfully took the children — and placed them in danger.
“Respondent and its employees acted affirmatively and used their authority in a way that created a danger to the children or that rendered the children more vulnerable to danger than had the state not acted at all,” the document says.
Human Services ignored reports of suspected abuse by the Wests, according to the claim, resulting in their deaths.
Charles Pettus, the biological father of the boys, is also suing the county and has a hearing scheduled next month.
Orrin was taken from Dean on Nov. 13, 2016, after she returned home from work and found the then-3-month-old “crying uncontrollably,” the claim says. Pettus had been home with the child.
Dean took Orrin to Memorial Hospital, where it was discovered his legs were broken. Suspecting abuse, Human Services took the child, the claim says.
Dean was told to take parenting courses. She completed them, then was told to undergo drug counseling. The claim says she used marijuana for medicinal purposes — and after it was recommended by a doctor — to deal with the stress of having her child seized.
In June 2017, Dean gave birth to Orson. He was released into her care, according to the claim, but days later was taken from her.
“Ms. Dean was informed that Kern County Human Services was removing (Orson) from her home, because (Orrin) had been removed, and they remove siblings together,” the claim says.
The document notes Dean had two older stepchildren living at home but they were allowed to remain with her.
Dean’s claim is scheduled for discussion in closed session at next week’s meeting of the county Board of Supervisors.
Trezell and Jacqueline West are due back in court May 13. They’re held without bail.