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Girls abused by dad settle suit with state

Six girls who were sexually abused by their father in a case that showed gross deficiencies in the child-welfare system have settled a civil lawsuit with the state Department of Children and Families for $375,000, their attorney said Friday.

The girls were repeatedly abused over seven years, ending in 1993. The father allegedly infected the girls with syphilis and got two of them pregnant. He is serving a 35-year sentence, said Karen Gievers, the girls' attorney.

The agency, then called the Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services, did nothing to stop the father despite receiving 18 reports that the family's 14 children could be victims of neglect and sexual abuse.

The girls, now ages 11 to 19, decided it was in their best interest to settle the lawsuit, which was filed in 1995, Ms. Gievers said.

"No amount of money can ever undue what has happened to the children," said Ms. Gievers. "It will provide money for future counseling needs and because of the information we learned we will be able to hopefully make sure the department does go forward on action on the deficiencies and fixing the problems."

Agency spokesman Mary O'Quinn could not be reached for comment.

The girls live in the Ocala area. The oldest is seeking her high school equivalency certificate. The others live in foster homes or with relatives, Ms. Gievers said.

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