An Oklahoma woman is suing the state for the death of her 5-year-old daughter, whose father beat her to death in June 2011.
Samantha Deal, 22, lost custody of her daughter, Serenity, after being charged with molesting a 10-year-old male relative, News 9 reports. Deal ultimately pleaded no contest to a charge of forcible oral sodomy on a child.
Serenity was first placed with her maternal grandparents, Annette and Chuck Deal, who wished to adopt her, according to an official report by the Oklahoma Department of Human Services.
Serenity was removed from the home, however, after social workers found that her grandparents were allowing her to have overnight unsupervised visits with her mother and her mother's boyfriend, who was a registered sex offender. The grandparents' lawyer said they were never informed that such visits were prohibited, according to the Oklahoman.
Serenity was placed with her father, 32-year-old Sean Devon Brooks, in May 2011. Less than a month later, she was found beaten to death in his apartment.
Brooks ultimately pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, KFOR reports, and he is now serving a life sentence.
Samantha Deal blames the Oklahoma Department of Human Services for placing Serenity with Brooks in the first place. On two occasions the previous January, OKDHS received reports that Serenity had returned bruised from visits with Brooks, once with "extensive bruising to her face." On that occasion, both Serenity and Brooks insisted that Brooks had accidentally dropped her on her head.
Serenity also reportedly told social workers that her father screamed at her, spanked her, and forced her to ride in the car with no seatbelt.
Now, Samantha Deal is suing the DHS. Her lawyers say that in addition to ignoring previous signs of abuse, the DHS failed to properly check Brooks' criminal background. If they had, the Daily Mail reports, they would have found a history of violence.
On June 4, Deal filed a $3 million claim, according to the Associated Press, requesting $1 million for herself and $1 million each for her two living daughters. The whereabouts of these two daughters are unclear.