OGDEN — The parents of a 13-year-old girl who was shot and killed in a Washington Wal-Mart after running away from a Utah youth home have filed a lawsuit alleging wrongful death.
Gregorio Valdivia and Jacqueline Rimola, the parents of Astrid Valdivia, filed the lawsuit in 2nd District Court against the state of Utah, the Utah Department of Human Services, the youth home where the girl was living, Utah Youth Village, two counselors at the youth home and two companies who provided ankle monitors that were placed on the girl. They accuse them of negligent placement, supervision and licensing, violations of their state constitutional rights and negligence in monitoring and are seeking unspecified damages.
Astrid, who was 13, left Utah "pursuant to a kidnapping and abduction" with 31-year-old Anthony Allen Martinez sometime before Oct. 6, 2010, the lawsuit states. When the girl returned to the state, her parents placed her in state custody to better protect her from Martinez.
The state, in turn, placed her in the Utah Youth Village group home, where the girl was classified as high-risk, the lawsuit states. Astrid was also required in a court order to wear an ankle monitor at all times.
While at the group home, a "Youth Village parent" drove Astrid to the home of Martinez's sister, the lawsuit states.
"Neither the home nor its occupants are verified and were not approved as a safe visitor location for high-risk Astrid," according to the lawsuit. "Astrid remained for some time unsupervised in the home."
"Neither the home nor its occupants are verified and were not approved as a safe visitor location for high-risk Astrid. Astrid remained for some time unsupervised in the home."
When the girl returned to the youth home, her therapists told the girl that Martinez had been released from jail and also discussed Stockholm syndrome — in which a victim bonds with a captor — with her. On Jan. 5, 2011, Astrid obtained a knife and cut her ankle monitor, prompting officials to move her to a treatment home.
On Jan. 18, 2011, she again cut her ankle monitor and left the Utah Youth Village treatment home. The lawsuit states that the treatment home proctor parents were not aware she was missing until the next day.
An investigation later revealed that the girl's ankle monitor was down for "unscheduled maintenance" for three hours the night she left the treatment home. Neither Sunset Monitoring Services nor Satellite Tracking of People LLC notified anyone that the girl's monitor had been tampered with until the day after she cut the monitor.
Astrid and Martinez went to Washington state where one of Martinez's acquaintances notified the Kitsap County Sheriff's Office that Martinez was there "armed with a gun, had possession of a minor and believed sexual offenses were taking places against the minor," the lawsuit states. The acquaintance then worked with law enforcement to get them to Martinez's location in Port Orchard, Wash.
According to the lawsuit, deputies approached Martinez in a Wal-Mart parking lot and the man ran. But when the deputies pursued, Martinez fired his weapon, wounding two of the deputies.
A third deputy struck Martinez in the leg, and when Astrid ran to Martinez, he shot the girl, killing her, before turning the weapon on himself, the lawsuit states.
The girl's parents claim that the state had an obligation to place the girl "in a secure environment worthy and capable of overseeing the life and health of children trusted to their care." They also allege that, as a child known to be a flight risk, they should have taken proper precautions to monitor her "for the very purpose of protecting her and keeping her safe."
Valdivia and Rimola are asking for damages in an amount to be determined at trial.