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DHS sued for $2.5 million after boy, 2, was beaten to death

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Child Abuse Generic

(FILE IMAGE)

Portland, OR (KPTV) — A local family says they called DHS for help at least four different times, but it never arrived. A two-year-old boy was later beaten to death, and they believe the state’s failure to act may have cost him his life.

DHS is now facing a $2.5 million lawsuit that could soon answer that question.

Joshua Howard is awaiting his trial in this case. He’s accused of beating Coltin Salsbury, 2, inside a Portland motel room in March of last year. Court documents say Howard fractured the boy’s skull, and the child later died at the hospital.

At the time, Howard was the boyfriend of Coltin’s mother, Wendy Salsbury.

While the boy’s family says they want him held responsible for what happened, they also believe the state is to blame for not doing more to save him.

“The holidays, his birthday, everything without Coltin is hard. It’s still incredibly sad and tough for all of us,” said the boy’s great aunt Tina Taylor. “I’m glad the lawsuit was filed, because something needed to be done. Coltin fell through the cracks.”

The lawsuit alleges that child welfare workers and a Seaside police officer failed to intervene in the months and weeks leading up to the toddler’s murder. Even when the boy’s father reportedly provided them with photos of bruises on the toddler.

In fact, the documents show there were at least four different calls to the state for help.

“My nephew went through the right steps to report it, but those steps were ignored,” said Taylor.

While the state had no official comment on the lawsuit, on their website they openly talk about the many steps they must take to assess and then act on a report of alleged abuse.

Their website claims that less than 10 percent of total child abuse reports result in a child being removed from a home.

Coltin’s family hopes his story will prompt change.

“This lawsuit is not just a lawsuit against them, but it is to prevent this to happen to any other family’s child. Hopefully Coltin’s death won’t be in vain,” said Taylor.

Any money won in this lawsuit would go directly to the beneficiaries of Coltin’s estate.

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3 comments

  • tootietuttle

    so I wonder if WA State DH&S budgets 100 million for lawsuit contingencies each year…Good to know where tax dollars are being burned…

  • KENNETH BRIGGS

    so where was the mother in all this? why didn’t she do something to stop it? if her low life bf was abusing her child she should have sent him packing, she’s just as much to blame as he is.

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