ANTIOCH — “Ranging in age from 9 to 16, six sisters had been sexually abused by their parents virtually every day since they were toddlers before finding hope in 1995 that their nightmare would end.
Instead, they say, it grew more horrific as the people they counted on to rescue them — police, child-welfare workers, their church pastor — failed to deliver.
A year after their parents were imprisoned for sex crimes spanning 20 years, the Dutro sisters — Glenda Stripes, Amber and Sarah Dutro, Martha McKnelly, Frances Smith and Christina Moore — are now suing the people and agencies they say failed to protect them as children by not following laws and procedures for handling child abuse.
Child Protective Services went to the Dutro sisters’ Antioch home Aug. 18, 1995, after police had garnered two confessions from their pedophile father because 14-year-old Glenda had disclosed to a church pastor that she was being molested. Had they been given a moment alone with social workers, the sisters say, they would have told them they had been tortured for 16 days in preparation of the CPS visit, after the pastor had tipped off their parents days before calling police.
But CPS, like police, never talked to them apart from their parents, and a light punishment for their rapist father only exacerbated their hellish existence.
“After that, the abuse got just that much worse,” Glenda Stripes, 31, said last week.
“Instead of taking us outof hell, they stoked the flame,” said the eldest sister, 32-year-old Amber Dutro.
The lawsuit, filed in Contra Costa Superior Court last week against Contra Costa County, city of Antioch, Calvary Open Bible Church in Antioch, and seven individuals who are either current or former CPS, police department or church employees. It alleges the defendants were negligent and failed to fulfill state-mandated duties that, if done, would have spared the Dutro children years of further abuse.”
I hope these girls win millions against these agencies and the church.
“One defendant, Calvary pastor Anthony Lee, is named for not contacting police or CPS when a teenage Sarah Dutro gave him a full history of the abuse in 2002 in an effort to stop her mother, Glenda Lea Dutro, the church’s youth adviser before her arrest, from hosting sleepover parties for children from the congregation at the Dutro house.”
The pastor should also be in prison. Not only did he not do anything… he tipped off the perpetrators.
“The suit asks for an undisclosed amount for past and future medical bills, and pain and suffering for the sisters, each of whom suffers from severe psychological disorders as a result of the abuse. Now adults with 12 children among them, the sisters gave permission to reveal their names in this story.
“Every one of the agencies had the duty and power to save these girls, and every one failed them,” said the sisters’ attorney, Jason Runckel. “They made their father untouchable. The girls never had a voice.”
Representatives from Calvary Open Bible Church did not respond to an interview request, and Contra Costa County officials declined to comment. Antioch said it’s investigating the matter and will respond to court proceedings appropriately.
“When these courageous young women came forward with the truth to ensure that there would be no other victims, law enforcement and the District Attorney’s Office were able to put together a solid case that led to the Dutros being sentenced to prison in 2011,” Antioch City Attorney Lynn Tracy Nerland said. “Like everyone, we wish that this outcome had occurred sooner.
“When Zion Dutro confessed to an earlier single incident, the mother’s involvement in aiding and abetting the ongoing abuse against all of the girls was not known,” Nerland said.
Bruce “Zion” Dutro, 51, was sentenced to 300 years in state prison, and his 49-year-old wife was sentenced to 15 years in 2011 after taking a plea deal in what veteran sex crimes prosecutor Paul Graves called the worst child sex abuse case in memory to go through Contra Costa County courts.
Bruce Dutro was the primary sexual abuser, while Glenda Lea Dutro facilitated the crimes, often handpicking children for her husband. Both parents physically, psychologically and verbally abused and neglected the children, two of whom are biological nieces that the Dutros obtained legal guardianship of and raised as their daughters from ages 3 years and 18 months.
The girls often were not enrolled in school and had limited contact with the outside world beyond their family’s church. For some of them, the sexual abuse lasted into their early 20s.
The parents were arrested in 2009 after an eight-month investigation launched by Antioch police after the sisters came to the department for the third time. The sisters said they were hesitant, having been burned by authority figures before, but anxious that their parents were working with the church to adopt a family with small children from Mexico.
Deputy district attorney Graves and Antioch police Officer Blair Benzler restored their faith in the criminal justice system by getting the 2011 conviction.
“We came forward because we didn’t want it to happen to another child,” said Sarah Dutro, 28. “We didn’t know until the case was over how badly everyone screwed up before.”
The 22-page civil complaint names defendant Mark Wood as the pastor whom Stripes first told about the abuse Aug. 2, 1995, and claims his immediate tipoff to the parents afforded them time to condition their daughters to lie to authorities.
That same day, the parents locked up five of the girls in one bedroom and Glenda in another, the victims said. For 16 days, until police sent CPS to the house Aug. 18, 1995, the sisters said they were beaten, starved, sleep-deprived and brainwashed on what to say to authorities. Young Glenda, meanwhile, was subjected to the same torture between rapes.
Wood, Stripes and her parents first went to the Antioch Police Department six days after the 14-year-old had confided in Wood. Stripes said she believed her mother’s threat to kill her, and so she watered down her story as the officer interviewed her and her mother together.
Officer William Dee noted in his police report that he was instructed by Detective Demetree Barakos before the meeting not to arrest Bruce Dutro, and so he sent the family home after obtaining a confession from the father, said Runckel, the sisters’ attorney. Both Barakos and Dee are defendants in the lawsuit.
It was another officer who called Bruce Dutro back to the Police Department on Aug. 18, 1995, and sent CPS to the house after obtaining a second confession.
The county social workers interviewed each of the girls as their mother held their hands so tight that her fingernails dug in their palms and their father was so close they could hear his breath, the sisters say.
They say they would have exposed their intimidating parents had they been given a chance to talk to someone away from them.
“We were exhausted and completely broken down, but we were going to put an end to it and tell them everything,” Amber Dutro said. “We never had the opportunity.”
“They actually apologized to my parents for being there, as if it was an inconvenience,” said McKnelly, 26.
Bruce Dutro pleaded to one count of child molestation for fondling Stripes, when in reality he was raping her, she said, and he spent four days in jail before being sentenced Nov. 1, 1995, to three years of probation. The judge ordered him to register as a sex offender and obey all CPS orders.
For the first six months of his probation, Bruce Dutro lived in an apartment near the family home. Glenda Lea Dutro moved in with him, leaving their daughters by themselves at the house with little food.
Like many times in the course of their childhood, the Dutro girls were not enrolled in school.
At night, their mother would bring one of them to the apartment to have sex with their father. Had anyone from the county ever visited the house as they were supposed to, they would have at minimum learned that the girls were living without adult supervision, Runckel said.”
and she only received 15 years. She also should have a life sentence. Her daughters will serve a life-sentence of pain and suffering from having a disgusting, depraved mother who handed them over to a child rapist.
“My father told me after 1995 and he was slapped on the wrists, every time he molested me, it was like laughing in their face,” Stripes said. “It’s not about getting money. I want things to change so no child has to go through what I went through.”
“It’s time for our voices to be heard because I’m done with being a victim,” Sarah Dutro said. “Children need to be protected, and if not by their parents, then who? It needs to be a government agency.”
Or they should be protected by a so-called “Christian” pastor whom the children confide in.