DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — The estate of the 10-year-old boy who was killed in December 2019 has settled a lawsuit with Montgomery County. The lawsuit alleged Children Services failed to protect Takoda Collins from his abusive father, despite many warnings.
Under the terms of the settlement, the county will pay $3.25 million, which the attorney for the estate says shows the county is taking responsibility. In addition to the money, changes have been made at Children Services to prevent another child from falling through the cracks ever again.
Michael Wright is the attorney for the Takoda Collins estate. He says, “This was a horrific case. And I don’t believe that there’s any amount of money that would ease the pain of this family.”
The settlement reached this week will never bring back 10-year-old Takoda, but Wright says it does help the family get closer to closure. “The goal always is for the family to try to come to some kind of resolution. We don’t always know if that’s going to happen. But we were happy that we were able to come to a resolution.”
Takoda died in December of 2019 of blunt force trauma, asphyxia, and water submersion. His father Al-Mutahan McLean was charged with murder. He was also indicted for the rape of a child under 13, felonious assault, and endangering children.
Takoda was allegedly abused for years, but Montgomery County Job and Family Services did not have an open case on Collins at the time he died, despite many reports. Children Services and the county have since conducted several reviews and instituted several policy changes.
Wright says, “The fact that they are paying the sum of money, it does show yes they’ve accepted responsibility. That they deem themselves to be culpable for not protecting this child.”
A criminal case filed by the estate against Dayton Children’s Hospital is still pending. The county declined to speak about the settlement, saying the ongoing criminal case prevents them from commenting.
WATCH how the Takoda Collins case spurred major changes at state and local agencies:
Many people raised concerns to police and Children Services — 17 reports by DPS teachers alone — but Takoda still slipped through the cracks. Wright says, “That’s why we bring lawsuits. That’s why we make them pay large sums of money, so that they can put processes in place to prevent this from happening again.”
Wright says the family is still grieving but were glad the tragedy sparked systemic changes to how child abuse is reported and investigated at the state and local levels. In the months since Takoda was found dead, several of the organizations involved have amended policies.
The Dayton Police Department now requires officers to complete a memo when called to a welfare check, in addition to contacting Children Services, and there must be additional follow-up if no one answers the door.
And in September 2020 Children Services released a new strategic vision that will streamline how possible abuse is reported, restructure how cases are handled, ensure staff is properly trained, and strengthen partnerships with schools and law enforcement.
Wright says, “We know that there are changes that have been made, there’s pending legislation to make changes and there have been policy changes.” He added the family is “happy that this portion of the case has come to a resolution. The criminal case is still pending so there’s a lot going on in this case.”
Messages to Takoda Collins’ mother were not returned.