Crime

Teen chained with dead chicken around neck sues former foster mom

Some of the protesters in 2015 at the Union County Courthouse Plaza. About 100 protesters gathered to criticize a plea deal for Wanda Sue Larson, a former child protection supervisor in Union County who took part in a stunning abuse case in 2013. Larson was sentenced to a maximum 17 months and was soon freed.
Some of the protesters in 2015 at the Union County Courthouse Plaza. About 100 protesters gathered to criticize a plea deal for Wanda Sue Larson, a former child protection supervisor in Union County who took part in a stunning abuse case in 2013. Larson was sentenced to a maximum 17 months and was soon freed. Charlotte Observer file photo

A teenager found chained to the porch of his foster home with a dead chicken around his neck has sued his former foster mom and Union County for the abuse he said he endured.

In a lawsuit filed Nov. 14 in Union County Superior Court, the boy, now 14, contends the county and its Department of Social Services were negligent in monitoring his “dangerous home environment.”

The boy says in his lawsuit that he “was subjected repeatedly to multiple occurrences of physical and emotional harm.”

The abuse gained worldwide attention after authorities found the boy, then 11 years old, shivering, malnourished and handcuffed to his foster mom’s porch with a dead chicken wrapped around his neck in November 2013.

At the time, the boy’s foster mom, Wanda Sue Larson, was a child protective services supervisor for Union County’s social services division. She was guardian to the boy and had adopted four other children living in the home at the time of her arrest.

Larson was sentenced last year to a maximum 17 months in jail in connection with the abuse. She was soon freed under the plea deal because she’d already spent 16 1/2 months in jail since her arrest.

Her live-in boyfriend, Dorian Harper, also pleaded guilty to abuse and was sentenced to up to 10 1/2 years in prison. Harper admitted to committing most of the abuse, including twisting the boy’s finger with a pair of pliers and burning his face with electrical wire, the Observer reported at the time.

Union County District Attorney Trey Robison said at the time that he agreed to the plea bargaining to spare the children under Larson’s care from having to testify. He said their testimony would have been critical in a trial. Larson also had cooperated with authorities, agreed to testified against Harper and had no prior offenses, Robison said.

Still, Larson’s plea deal brought about 100 protesters to the Union County Courthouse plaza in downtown Monroe. Many carried signs that included “Union County Lax on Child Abuse” and this one held by 6-year-old Brendon Boyle: “My Life Matters.”

In his lawsuit filed by Charlotte lawyer Randall Phillips, the boy requests a jury trial and at least $25,000 in damages.

Union County’s legal department doesn’t comment on pending litigation, a spokeswoman said Tuesday.

Larson is being sued as an individual and in her former role with the county’s social services division. Phillips said a notice of the lawsuit mailed to Larson’s last known address came back as undeliverable. He has asked the Union County Sheriff’s Office to find Larson and serve the legal notice on her.

Joe Marusak: 704-358-5067, @jmarusak

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