$1 Million lawsuit filed on behalf of beaten child; Illinois DCFS is named as defendant

Andrea Dearden Sep. 17, 2010, 4:15am

The parents and grandparents of a Madison County boy and the state are named in a $1.05 million lawsuit filed on behalf of a young child allegedly beaten to death by his father.

Matthew C. Wells, special administrator of the estate of Joseph M Schoolfield, filed the complaint Sept. 7 in Madison County Circuit Court. Named in the suit are Joseph's mother, father, grandparents and the director of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, Erwin McEwen.

According to the complaint, Joseph Schoolfield died in January 2009 from head and brain injuries he suffered when he was beaten by his father, Scott Endicott. Endicott had been investigated for multiple allegations of abuse toward Joseph and had been ordered to stay away from the 3-year-old.

Wells claims reports of abuse were first made by Joseph's daycare provider in September 2008. Authorities discovered Joseph had been beaten by Endicott with a belt. The child remained in the care of his mother, Valerie Schoolfield. Endicott was ordered to stay away from his son.

Despite the no-contact order, children and family services workers determined Scott Endicott was living in the home with Joseph and his mother. Additional reports of abuse were filed by Joseph's daycare provider after she saw more bruises on the boy.

In November 2008, a child protection investigator removed Joseph from his parent's home and placed him in the care of his father's parents, Dennis and Kimberly Endicott. The following month, Wells says the state terminated the safety plan in place for Joseph and allowed his mother to begin caring for him again. However, the no-contact order against Scott Endicott was still in force.

Wells says Joseph was at his grandparent's home on Jan. 21, 2009 when he was severely beaten by his father. The child died three days later in a St. Louis hospital.

Schoolfield and Endicott are accused of causing Joseph's death and for failing to protect him from harm and keep him safe. Endicott's parents are accused of negligence for allowing their son in their home, despite the valid no-contact order. Wells argues they willfully allowed their son to beat Joseph on multiple occasions.

Also named in the suit is child welfare specialist Sophia Rawlings. She and DCFS Director McEwen are accused of failing to protect Joseph and of depriving the child of his right to personal security and safety.

Wells is seeking a minimum of $1.05 million in damages.

Attorneys Michael R. Bilbrey, James R. Stever and Michael V. Olmann, all of Glen Carbon, are representing him.

Madison County Circuit Court Case No. 10-L-9281

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