Lawsuit filed against state on behalf of starved Everett boy

EVERETT— A lawsuit was filed this morning against the state Department of Social and Health Services on behalf of a 5-year-old Everett boy who nearly starved to death.

Case workers failed to protect Shayne Abegg, then 4, even when they knew that he was in danger, said the boy’s attorney David Moody of Seattle. He believes the state should pay to for the boy’s prolonged abuse and suffering, .

In December Moody filed a claim against the state for $22 million. The state denied the claim. No dollar amount was named in lawsuit filed today.

A court-appointed guardian ad litem hired Moody shortly after Snohomish County sheriff’s deputies rescued Shayne from his father’s south Everett apartment. Shayne weighed about 25 pounds. That’s about half the weight of a healthy boy his age. He could barely stand, his hair was falling out and he suffered from hypothermia because he didn’t have enough body fat to keep him warm.

His father Danny Abegg, and the man’s live-in girlfriend Marilea Mitchell, starved the boy to punish him for sneaking food. Shayne had learned to horde food after going hungry while leaving with his mother. Danny Abegg and Mitchell were convicted of first-degree criminal mistreatment. Each was sentenced to eight years in prison.

Shayne was removed from his father’s apartment March 2007 after Child Protective Services received a complaint that the boy looked malnourished. A state case worker last visited Shayne January 2007 and reported that he appeared to be in good health.

Shayne now is living with a family member and continues to undergo counseling, Moody said.

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