Florentino Rios, a foster parent accused of sexually assaulting two boys in foster care, is now serving 20 years in prison. Rios pleaded no contest to six counts of sexual assault, and attorneys wonder how he ever passed the requirements to become a foster parent.
Aged 14 and 15 when the abuse began, only the two boys are named in the suit against the Department of Human Services. They claim the agency put them in danger by placing them with Rios. KITV 4 reports that a 10-year-old was also abused but was left off the lawsuit to protect him from having to testify.
According to attorney Matson Kelley, there were many red flags regarding Rios. Rios moved from Puerto Rico to Maui in 2008, and he never held a job since arriving in Hawaii. He was collecting from the government in every way possible and lived in a homeless shelter. The one bedroom apartment Rios rented in 2009 was never inspected by DHS, and yet he was allowed to become a foster parent. West Hawaii Today spoke with Attorney Kelley who stated, “We just feel if you’re going to take a child from their home, they need to be placed in a safe home. In this case, there were so many indicators that this person was unfit to be a foster parent, and yet time and time again they were placing children into this home.”
The Huffington Post reported that Rios changed his name to Zack Morris, based on the popular 80s TV show, “Saved By The Bell.” This fake name was used when he registered to be a foster parent with DHS.
Besides sexual assault, Rios is accused of forcing the boys to drink liquor. In 2010, Rios filed lawsuits against the department claiming that they discriminated against him and performed unlawful investigations.