Why Did the Foster Care System Fail the Children in the Care of Gregg Larsen?

An article in today’s Minneapolis Star Tribune about the case of Gregg Larsen and his exploitation of foster children in his care highlights how important our state and county agencies are to protecting our most vulnerable.

Much has been written about ways to protect our kids from sexual exploitation. However, what happens to those children who have no one to watch over them. Foster children, for example. Who will talk to them about internet safety or what to do if an adult attempts to exploit them? Most of us take some comfort in knowing that there is a state and county foster care system that oversees those vulnerable foster children. Unfortunately, it appears that the system may be broken.

As is discussed in today’s article, the foster care system is far from perfect. In the case of foster parent Gregg Larsen, one of his foster kids reported to Hennepin County that Larsen had a camera installed in the bathroom. There was no follow-up on this report by Hennepin County, and consequently, Larsen recorded hours of video with this and other cameras that he then used as child pornography. Larsen is now awaiting sentencing on federal production and possession of child pornography charges that involved his foster kids as well as their friends.

What happened? Why did Hennepin County not follow-up? Is the system so broken that it is becoming a haven for child molesters and child pornographers? I sure hope not. Maybe some scrutiny through litigation might help to fix some of these holes in the foster care system.

About the author: Patrick Noaker is a Sr. Litigation Attorney with the law firm of Jeff Anderson & Associates who represents survivors of sexual abuse, exploitation and pornography.