By Jonathan Noah and Ed Payne, CNN
(CNN) – A 20-year-old woman whose aunt allegedly beat her and held her captive for a decade in the basement of a Philadelphia apartment building has sued the city, claiming her ordeal could have been avoided if officials had acted appropriately.
Beatrice Weston alleges the city failed to “properly train Department of Human Services workers in child placements,” resulting in her being put in the custody of her aunt, Linda Weston, a convicted felon, a statement from her attorney Shanin Specter said. The complaint says the city of Philadelphia failed to release information about the aunt’s criminal history.
Linda Weston served eight years in prison for killing her sister’s boyfriend in the early 1980s. In that case, the victim “was held captive for an extended period of time, locked in a closet and he literally starved to death,” Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said in October.
Beatrice Weston suffered much of the same abuse, beaten with a baseball bat and forced to consume her own urine during the 10 years she was in her aunt’s custody, according to her attorney
“This would have been avoided if the city hadn’t recommended that a convicted felon be given custody of a vulnerable, innocent child,” Specter said.
Mark McDonald, press secretary for Mayor Michael Nutter, said he could not comment on pending litigation.
Linda Weston’s attorney said she had not seen the complaint and most likely would not be representing her in any civil hearing.
Beatrice Weston’s case first came to light in October when she was found, along with several mentally disabled adults, in the basement of an apartment building where her aunt lived. Police said they believe it was part of a scheme to collect their Social Security checks.
The complaint names two other defendants, Nefertiti Savoy, a social worker, and Richard Ames, an attorney who recommended Weston’s placement.
Linda Weston is set to go on trial in January on charges of kidnapping, assault, conspiracy, false imprisonment and other related counts to holding the four adults captive.