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Guardian: Separate mom, child she's fought for

After her daughter was abused, Brenda Bryant spent a decade fighting on her behalf, pressing until the state Supreme Court heard her case about South Carolina's responsibility for people with disabilities.

Now, two years later, a court-appointed guardian is fighting to end all contact between the two, saying Bryant is a controlling parent who refuses to allow doctors and social workers to treat her daughter.

Bryant, 54, says this newest court fight has devastated her even as her family's lawsuit against the state finally appears set to go to trial. She disputes claims made in court documents that she is a threat and alleges a conspiracy between the state and the caregivers who now watch over her daughter, a 34-year-old mentally retarded woman.

The family's legal woes started in 1995, when Bryant said her daughter was raped after leaving the Babcock Center, the group home where she lived. Two years later, Bryant sued the center and the state agency that managed it, saying employees at the home did not discourage the then-21-year-old woman from increasing levels of sexual contact with two men.

The Babcock Center eventually settled its case with Bryant for $250,000 – which was put into a trust for her daughter – though it admitted no wrongdoing. Bryant pursued her case against the state Department of Disabilities and Special Needs.

In 2006, the state Supreme Court sent back to a lower court the question of whether the state agency was responsible for its patients when it contracts the work out to private vendors. Those proceedings are set for September.

The Associated Press and the Observer typically do not identify victims of alleged sex crimes, but Bryant over the years has sought coverage of the case.

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