State Pays Lawyers $1.6 Million To Fight Lawsuit Involving Kid Abused By Foster-Adoptive Dad

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The State of Arizona has already paid a private law firm more than $1.6 million to defend state agencies in a lawsuit filed by a young man from Cochise County who suffered years of abuse at the hands of his foster-adoptive father, who was convicted in 2016 for multiple counts of sexual misconduct.

The money paid to Rusing, Lopez & Lizardi represents billed legal services in a case that has not even gone to trial yet, according to public records obtained by Arizona Daily Independent. Another $150,000 in invoices is currently awaiting payment, the records reveal.

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Normally the Arizona Attorney General’s Office provides legal services to the divisions of the Department of Economic Security (DES) and to the Department of Child Safety (DCS). However, state law allows some professional services to be provided through contracts with outside law firms.

That is what is happening in the case of Ryan Frodsham, who alleges various state agencies and employees, as well as Catholic Communities Services of Southern Arizona and Arizona Partnership for Children LLP, ignored multiple “red flags” of abuse after placing him and a younger brother in the Sierra Vista home of David and Barbara Frodsham as foster children in 2004.

The Frodshams were cleared in 2011 to adopt the boys despite more than 36 police reports connected to the Frodsham household through early 2016, weeks before David Frodsham was arrested as part of a child-sex ring in the Sierra Vista area.

David Frodsham signed a plea deal shortly after his arrest. It guaranteed him a state prison term of no more than 17 years for his admitted abuse of Ryan Frodsham. At least two other man are in prison for their sexual abuse of the boy; both told investigators David Frodsham facilitated the abuse.

Last week, Judge Jason Lindstrom of the Cochise County Superior Court was advised by attorneys with Arizona Partnership for Children that the organization reached a settlement with Ryan Frodsham. This formally drops APC from the lawsuit.  

Details of the settlement were not disclosed.

Meanwhile, Lindstrom cited COVID-19 concerns when he recently vacated a month-long jury trial slated to start in February on Ryan Frodsham’s lawsuit filed back in September 2018 by Tucson attorney Lynne Cadigan. A new trial date has not been set.

Rusing, Lopez & Lizardi is also aware of a notice of claim submitted last summer to several state agencies on behalf of the younger brother. The younger brother, who is now of age but referred to as John Doe in the claim, is also represented by attorney Cadigan with the consent of a court-authorized conservator.

The notice of claim reveals the younger brother has been dealing with mental health issues for some time, and was recently confined to an institution for treatment. His problems stem from abuse suffered in the Frodsham home, first as a foster child and then as an adoptee, the claim states.

“John Doe’s childhood was destroyed, he suffered years of torture, and his future life will be forever marred by the abuse he suffered,” Cadigan wrote. “John Doe will likely never be able to hold stable employment, maintain stable relationships, or be able to operate in society within the rules of law and authority due to the years of abuse and neglect he endured at the hands of the responsible parties.”

The state had until early January to settle the younger brother’s claim without litigation, but there has been no court filing indicating new activity by the conservator.  With a statutory six-month waiting period over, a lawsuit can now be initiated on behalf of the younger brother.

It would be the third such civil action filed in Cochise County Superior Court involving alleged horrors in the Frodsham home. 

The second Cochise County lawsuit was filed by Cadigan in May 2020 on behalf of Neal Taylor, another foster child placed with the Frodshams. Public records show Rusing, Lopez & Lizardi billed state taxpayers more than $115,000 to represent the state in just the first year of the case.

Judge Lindstrom recently ruled Taylor’s lawsuit will not go to trial until after Ryan Frodsham’s case is heard by a jury.