East Bay News

Sisters sue church, city, county for failing to stop abuse

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Six sisters from Antioch are suing the city, the county and their church. They're accusing public and church officials of failing to respond to years of sexual abuse by their own parents.

The Dutro girls were four biological siblings and two cousins, all raised as sisters.

"Their story is unimaginable, but the scariest part is that it's true," the Dutro's attorney Jason Runckel said.

The sisters are now adults looking back on what they say were 20 years, from the time they were toddlers, of sexual abuse by their parents.

The oldest daughter, Amber, who is now 32, told ABC7 News by phone, that those they turned to for help ignored them.

"Six little girls were completely left and I can't stand by and let it happen again," she said.

She and her sisters are now suing the city of Antioch and three police officers, Contra Costa County Child Protective Services and their church, Calvary Open Bible Church and two pastors.

"They didn't do the job they were mandated to do and trained and supervised to do," Runckel said. "They were supposed to protect them."

Runckel says in 1995, one of the girls told her pastor about the abuse. The lawsuit claims he then tipped off her father before alerting child protective services days later.

"It made it hard to trust anybody, especially coming from a church," Amber Dutro said.

According to the suit, once child protective services and the police got involved, neither talked to the girls alone, away from their parents. Her father received probation.

"The police officers that are, you know, you grow up with thinking they are superheroes, they weren't," Amber Dutro said.

Bruce Zion Dutro and his wife Glenda were arrested in 2009 and sentenced to prison last year after the girls gathered their courage and went back to police. They were motivated after Amber learned that, with the help of Calvary Open Bible Church, her parents were trying to adopt a family from Mexico.

The sisters say they have filed the lawsuit because they want reforms so no one else suffers like they did.

"This isn't about money, it's about changing things," Amber Dutro said.

Lynn Tracy Nerland, the Antioch city attorney, said in statement, "Like everyone, we wish that this outcome had occurred sooner. When Zion Dutro confessed to an earlier single incident, the mother's involvement in aiding and abetting the on-going abuse against all of the girls was not known."

Neither the church not the county has commented on the lawsuit.

Zion Dutro is serving 300 years in state prison. The girls' mother is serving 15 years.

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Tags:
antioch, contra costa county, children, lawsuit, east bay news, carolyn tyler
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