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Published: Wednesday, 3/16/2005

Couple sues over removal of child

The parents of an 8-year-old boy who was removed temporarily from their home by Lucas County Children Services sued the agency and county officials yesterday in U.S. District Court in Toledo.

Chesterfield Franklin, Jr., and Gloria Bumpus of Talmadge Road claim they were treated differently than other parents when Children Services took their son away for two months in 2003.

Mr. Franklin is blind and Ms. Bumpus suffers from Huntington's chorea.

Dean Sparks, executive director of Children Services; the agency's 14-member board; current and former county commissioners and agency staff attorney, and a caseworker were named as defendants in the complaint, which was assigned to Judge James Carr.

The child was removed from the home in January, 2003, after Children's Services alleged in a Lucas County Juvenile Court custodial hearing that Ms. Bumpus was an alcoholic, and Mr. Franklin was unable to care for his son.

The lawsuit said the child was returned to the couple in March, 2003, after the court learned about the agency's investigation into similar allegations made against the couple in 2000 that were proven to be untrue.

The earlier investigation found that though Mr. Franklin was blind, it posed no barrier for him being able to care for his son, and that symptoms of Ms. Bumpus' disease include slurred speech and lack of coordination that caused her to appear intoxicated.

Rod Brant, an agency spokesman, said Mr. Sparks and the board couldn't comment on pending litigation. "Even more so, we have not seen the lawsuit. We don't know what is in it," Mr. Brandt said.

Mr. Franklin and Ms. Bumpus are seeking damages in excess of $25,000 and attorney fees.

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