Fathers file lawsuit against SC Social Services after children die under watch of ‘unfit’ mother

(WBTW Photo)

DARLINGTON COUNTY (WBTW) – A wrongful death lawsuit has been filed in the case where four Hartsville children were killed in a house fire after they were left home alone by their mother two years ago.

Hope Hawkins was arrested and charged with unlawful neglect of a child and homicide by child abuse in April of 2013. Police say she left her four children, all under the age of four, home alone, and the house caught on fire.

Now, the two fathers of those four children are filing a lawsuit. The lawsuit is against the Darlington County Department of Social Services, South Carolina Department of Social Services, and the mother of the four children, Hope Hawkins.

The lawsuit claims that the Darlington County DSS knew the children were at risk of harm or neglect.

It quotes several reports DSS recieved, including one a year before Hawkins was arrested that reads:

“Ms. Hawkins is using drugs while caring for her children and not supervising her children.”

The suit also claims South Carolina DSS interviewed Hawkins multiple times and knew that she was an unfit mother.

The fathers’ attorney, Randall Hood, says that DSS is supposed to be a trusting resource for our children.

“This is a case of incredible tragic proportions as we raise our complaint that DSS is in place to protect the safety of our children. It is our belief that they failed to protect these children, and as a result, they are dead,” said Hood.

Hawkins’ attorney denies the allegations made against her but admits her client was interviewed by DSS. News 13 reached out to DSS, but we’ve gotten no response.

A date has not yet been set for the trial.

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