A northwest suburban psychiatrist is one of several people being sued in a lawsuit filed Friday over the 2011 downstate murder of a child who was in foster care.
Kianna Rudesill’s father, James Rudesill, filed the suit in Cook County Circuit Court. He holds Dr. William Puga partially responsible for not reporting suspicious behavior from his 4-year-old daughter, who was beaten to death in May 2, 2011, at her foster home in Livingston County — about 94 miles south of Chicago.
Kianna was a ward of the state in August 2010 and was placed in a foster home through Baby Fold, an adoption and foster care agency in Normal, according to the suit.
For “months” before her death, Baby Fold was informed by multiple people that Kianna was being abused in her new foster home, but the agency took no action, the suit claims. The foster mother, Heather Lamie, allegedly made specific requests for help from Baby Fold because “she was overwhelmed” with how many children were in her home, the suit claims.
According to the suit, Kianna began seeing Puga, a psychiatrist, in March 2011 at his Streamwood facility because Lamie believed the child was a danger to herself and others, the suit claims.
That’s where Kianna asked whether a therapist would “also hurt her when she did something bad,” the suit claims. During her stay in Streamwood, Kianna was never fearful until it was time to meet with her foster family, the suit claims.
The doctor never investigated Kianna’s fearful behavior, the suit alleges, and she was discharged from his care later that month.
The suit claims Lamie beat Kianna severely in May and found her lying in their home the next day. Kianna was pronounced dead May 4 and her death was ruled a homicide from blunt force trauma, the suit claims, citing a coroner’s report.
Lamie — who is named as a defendant — was later charged with first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison February 13, according to the Illinois Department of Corrections website and published news reports.
The suit claims the death could have been avoided if Puga or Baby Folds had looked into Kianna’s behavior or had investigated claims that she was being abused.
Baby Folds, Puga, a representative for Streamwood Behavioral Healthcare System or Lamie’s husband — all named as defendants — could not be reached for comment Friday evening.
The seven-count suit is asking for more than $350,000 in damages and claims negligence against Baby Folds and the foster parents. It also claims wrongful death against Puga and the Streamwood Behavioral Healthcare System.