A new group that seeks to help teen victims of prostitution has filed a federal civil suit against two high-ranking Department of Children & Families officials.
The suit comes a few days after The Miami Herald published a story detailing concerns DCF leaders had about the group, called Building Empowerment by Stopping Trafficking, or BEST, and its leader, Linda J. Sullivan.
The suit claims that DCF’s Miami managing director, Esther Jacobo, and DCF’s statewide director of children’s legal services, Mary Cagle have violated BEST’s due process rights and are conducting a smear campaign against Sullivan.
A DCF spokesman said the agency knew about the suit and was reviewing it.
The suit mentions concerns detailed in The Herald article, including an assertion that BEST representatives had instructed the leader of a shelter for girls forced into prostitution not to call the state’s child abuse hotline. The suit attributes that complaint to a misinformation campaign aimed at discouraging people from using BEST’s services.