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Kansas settles lawsuit, pays $1 million to family of boy tortured and body fed to pigs

Kansas will pay $1 million to the family of a 7-year-old child who died of starvation in Kansas City, Kansas, and his body was fed to pigs.

Despite numerous contacts with child welfare authorities in Kansas and Missouri, Adrian Jones remained in the home with his biological father and stepmother. On more than one occasion, Adrian told authorities he was being abused.

A panel composed of Gov. Laura Kelly and legislative leaders approved the settlement in the lawsuit against the Kansas Department of Children and Family following a closed-door discussion Thursday

“I’m glad it’s over,” said Judy Conway, Adrian’s maternal grandmother. “It’s bittersweet. It makes me happy, but at the same time it infuriates me that Adrian had to die because of people’s failure to protect him.

“This should have never happened. If people would have just listened to him and him using his words and him saying that this is happening to me, I believe the outcome would have been entirely different.”

Conway, who has become an advocate for other Kansas kids, said that goes for “all children out there that are using their voices and saying that, you know, bad things are happening to them.”

“And for some reason,” Conway said, “sometimes we let politics and money, and we’re too busy, get in the way of protecting these children.

The settlement concludes a nearly decade long saga for the family, nine years after Adrian was found dead following reports of torture and abuse at the hands of his father and stepmother.

The family filed dual civil lawsuits in Kansas and Missouri arguing child welfare workers had failed to remove Adrian from his home despite reports of abuse.

Adrian lived in Plattsburg, Missouri, before moving to Kansas City, Kansas. During that time, he interacted with social workers for both states. Records obtained by The Star in 2017 showed he told a Missouri social worker he was being physically abused in his home.

The Missouri Court of Appeals dismissed the case in that state two years ago but the Kansas case was headed for trial next year before the settlement was reached.

In a statement Kelly, a Democrat, emphasized the efforts her administration had made towards improving the child welfare system since she came into office – including the passage of “Adrian’s Law” in 2021 which requires law enforcement or DCF caseworkers to visually observe all children who are alleged victims of abuse or neglect.

“I, along with so many others, was horrified by the torture Adrian Jones endured at the hands of his abusers. Reforming our child welfare system has been a high priority of my administration,” Kelly said. “We will continue to work diligently to ensure that our child welfare system has the resources it needs to provide the highest quality services possible to care for Kansas children.“

The settlement came after Wyandotte District Judge William Mahoney in October ruled that damages against DCF would not be limited to $500,000 at trial.

Kansas law limits liability involving claims against government agencies to $500,000 per “single occurrence or accident,” but Jones’ family successfully argued they had alleged multiple occurrences under the law, bypassing the damages cap.

DCF had urged Mahoney to defer deciding the issue until trial, which had been tentatively scheduled for April 2025.

Speaking to reporters at an unrelated event Wednesday Kelly said the decision to settle at a remarkably high number was not related to potential liability in the case.

“It really had to do with wanting to get that settled and not spend time litigating in courts for what could be definitely months, maybe even years, and distracting us from the mission at hand, which is making sure that our child welfare system is as good as it can get,” Kelly told reporters.