DENVER (KDVR) — Aurora City Councilwoman Danielle Jurinsky detailed the accusations in her new lawsuit filed against Arapahoe County, the County Board of Commissioners, the director of the county’s Department of Human Services and former child caseworker Robin Niceta.
Niceta, the ex-partner of former Aurora Police Chief Vanessa Wilson, is accused of filing false claims of child abuse against Jurinsky. Now, she says others are speaking up with similar stories.
Jurinsky is the one bringing forth the class action lawsuit, but she said at least 40 others are joining in hopes of ending what she said is a systemic issue within the county.
“To Arapahoe County: You’re not going to wear me out. I will get up and I will go to work every day and will make whatever I have to make to pay the attorney’s fee on this. You’re not going to outlast me. Do the right thing,” Jurinsky said.
Jurinsky said the right thing in her lawsuit would result in justice for her and the families standing behind her Thursday outside of Arapahoe County’s Child Services building.
“We’ve filed a separate lawsuit on Ms. Jurinsky for slander and libel but the reason why we are here today is because we wanted to bring as many parents and caretakers look forward to having their day in court, to tell their story, and to be present with us,” said attorney Elliot Singer, of Conduit Law.
Jurinsky said all but one of the families standing with her has a case with Arapahoe County connected to Niceta. The councilwoman said her case led to others reaching out to her about issues with the system.
“There’s no proof, no pictures of abused children. They are allowed to make up statements. One of the women standing behind me has a family member here that was absolutely lied about, that Robin Niceta took the stand and said her own mother said things about her that were never said. This is unchecked power,” Jurinsky said during a press conference about the lawsuit.
Arapahoe County responds to child caseworker lawsuit
Arapahoe County released a statement late Thursday reading:
“Arapahoe County is equally appalled and concerned as our community is about the alleged criminal actions of Robin Niceta, a former employee of our Human Services department.
There are many checks and balances within the child protection system to weed out false allegations. We have confidence in our ability to protect children from abuse and neglect in our County, and at the same time to preserve the rights of parents and guarantee due process. All allegations of abuse and neglect of children are fully evaluated and investigated by multiple layers of human services, educational, medical, mental health, and legal professionals, in accordance with State laws and regulations. When disputes arise during these investigations, all parties have the right to have their case heard by a judge or jury, and also to appeal. There also is a State-prescribed process for reviewing complaints we receive about closed cases, and we act upon the conclusions of those evaluations as needed.
We have not yet had a chance to review all of the allegations in the recently filed complaints but point out that many of them draw conclusions without citing factual specifics. We are not aware of any evidence of widespread misconduct by the caseworkers and other professionals within the Arapahoe County Human Services Department, despite what is alleged in the complaints.
The Colorado Department of Human Services, as the supervising agency of each county department of human services, is investigating, at our request, whether there are potentially other issues of concern in all assessments and cases conducted by Ms. Niceta during her tenure with the County. We are awaiting the results of this independent investigation and will swiftly take any appropriate action after it is completed.”Arapahoe County
Jurinsky’s attorneys said they are hoping these claims will spur action at the state level when it comes to vetting where abuse complaints come from and who can speak on them.
“One is the ability in Colorado of anyone to call in and make an anonymous complaint. And then that complaint, we’re being told by DHS, has to be investigated — that’s not really how the statute reads. That needs to stop,” said Suzanne Taheri, of Maven Law Group. “The other thing that needs to stop is these gag orders. So many of these women throughout these cases, and other cases I’ve represented, have gag orders that prohibit them from speaking about the case.”
FOX31 has reached out to Niceta and her legal team but did not receive a response. She is set for an appearance in criminal court on Monday.