Child Abuse Lawsuit Involving Former AZ DCS Caseworker Moved To Federal Court

Monica, Jade, and Brian Campbell attend a hearing at the Cochise County Superior Court. [Photo by Terri Jo Neff]

A lawsuit which seeks financial damages for years of abuse endured by four adoptive children of an Arizona Department of Child Safety (DCS) case manager and a 911 dispatcher has been transferred to federal court at the request of the defendants.

On Jan. 22, one-time DCS case manager Brian Campbell and his wife Monica Campbell were sentenced to three years in state prison for four counts each of felony child abuse. Monica Campbell worked as a dispatch supervisor for the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) until she quit in March 2020, one year after the couple was charged with multiple child abuse charges.

The children, all of whom are now teenagers, initially filed a lawsuit in Cochise County Superior Court alleging the parents, Cochise County, the State of Arizona, Sheriff Mark Dannels, and a longtime CCSO sergeant engaged in negligent conduct and civil conspiracy. They also allege claims of Civil Rights violations against the Cochise County defendants.

The various defendants recently agreed to move the lawsuit from a state court to the U.S. District Court in Tucson. A federal magistrate has set a March 26 deadline for all defendants to file their formal answers to the children’s claims.

Among the claims is that DCS engaged in negligent hiring of Brian Campbell in 2015 just months after he was involuntarily terminated by the Cochise County Juvenile Probation Department. His employment at DCS -where he was required to assess child safety and risk, prepare case plans, and monitor services for children in need- lasted until September 2018, when he was fired for Tasering one of his children.

“At all times relevant, DCS was aware that Brian Campbell had been fired by the County, yet hired him anyway, as it was the State’s pattern, policy, and practice to hire ‘friends, regardless of their qualifications,” the lawsuit alleges, adding that the parents “abused their respective positions within DCS and the CCSO” and directed those agencies to ignore reports of abuse which dated back to 2012.

The house of cards did not fall until July 2018 when a CCSO deputy responded to the Campbell home for a report of an “out of control” teenaged boy. The deputy reviewed security camera footage taken from inside the house which he was told by the parents showed the boy posed a threat to the family.

Instead, the deputy saw Brian Campbell sucker punch the much smaller teen and then use a Taser on the boy who was restrained on the ground. Monica Campbell was also involved in the Taser incident.

The deputy recorded the security footage playback on his cell phone, which turned out to be fortuitous when his supervisor obtained a search warrant weeks later surveillance footage had been either manually erased or automatically recorded over. The supervisor, Sgt. Louie Tartaglia is named as a defendant based on his handling of many of the prior abuse reports made by some of the children.

The Taser incident led to a formal criminal investigation in the fall 2018. Multiple felony charges were filed against the parents in early 2019, leading to their guilty pleas in December 2020.

Once the defendants file their answers to the lawsuit then a federal magistrate will work with the various attorneys to establish case deadlines leading up to a jury trial in early 2023.

Arizona Daily Independent has learned that Monica Campbell went on paid leave during the CCSO investigation and remained on that status for 15 months until her voluntary resignation in March 2020. She later received at least $5,900 in unemployment payments in 2020.