....Despite the lack of evidence from multiple interrogations of the children, the forensic examination of Andrea and the search of the Locke home, as well as interviews with other children and parents, the County continued to detain the children from their parents and proceeded with legal dependency proceedings based on knowingly deficient and improper allegations of abuse. After exculpatory information finally surfaced, the legal proceedings were dismissed but the spirit and the reputation of the family who had been upstanding members of the community for over 100 years had been broken.

After the initial nightmare was over, the Lockes filed a lawsuit to seek compensation for violation of their civil rights and to protect other families in the future from this type of abuse.

....At that moment the mediator realized he had made a terrible mistake by not identifying and addressing the emotional concerns of the family early on in the mediation. He accepted the Lockes’ indifference and abstention from discussion as a willingness to put the conflict behind them and focus simply on the financial terms of the settlement. He failed to recognize how the strain of the criminal proceedings had built up a well of anger that was hidden beneath the surface of a rock-hard shell built around Tom Locke. What’s more, he elevated the status of the lawyers above the clients for the purposes of processing the mediation so that he could get to the numbers as soon as possible and consummate the transaction known as settlement. Unfortunately, the pecking order in this case should have been reversed, with the Lockes placed at a higher level along with recognition of the impact that this set of events had on their lives.

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