Lawsuit claims government and others could have prevented child abuse incident

A lawsuit in the Oconee Common Pleas Court claims that child protection services, medical providers, and law enforcement authorities were negligent in not taking steps that could have prevented the then boyfriend of the mother from abusing a second child in the family. The 23-page lawsuit, filed yesterday by two Rock Hill attorneys for plaintiffs Ravyn Hammond and Cody Hess names 13 defendants—including the DSS, the county sheriff, the coroner, the hospital, and two doctors. It lists six causes of action alleging negligence in the circumstances in which one young girl suffered fatal abuse at the hands of the boyfriend and was followed by injuries to the girl’s sister five months later. The perpetrator, Matthew Chappell, was sentenced in March to 40 years in prison after pleading no contest to voluntary manslaughter and guilty to great bodily injury to a child. Judge Sprouse called what happened to the sisters “troubling and horrible.” The lawsuit refers to the girls by initials. It claims that had certain actions been taken by various officials and government agencies, “…the true cause of G.W.H.’s injuries would have been discovered, and Chappell would not have had the opportunity to harm G.H.” The lawsuit seeks “judgment against all Defendants for all actual damages and consequential damages in an amount to be determined by a jury at the trial of this action as well as attorney’s fees and costs and for such other and further relief as this Court Deems just and proper.”