Urbandale Teen Seeks Legal Recourse Against Adoptive Parents

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  After escaping from the Urbandale home in which she says her adoptive parents used to abuse her, Malayia Knapp is now suing.

Monday was Malayia's 19th birthday, which is the cut-off age to seek legal recourse against her adoptive parents under Iowa law.

"If you do not file your lawsuit before that time period passes, essentially before you turn 19, then you lose your right to sue," attorney Jennifer De Kock said.

The lawsuit stems from 2008, when the Knapps adopted Malayia and her siblings; Malayia said the abuse began soon after. Court documents show Malayia alleges assault, battery, imprisonment, and emotional distress.

"With the imprisonment and stuff, how she locked us in a basement with no outside access, windows, no bathroom," Malayia said.

Maylayia found a way out, escaping from the home in 2015, but the Knapps still have custody of her younger siblings.

"I haven’t seen the rest of my siblings since December of 2015 when I ran away, or have had visits with them or anything,” Malayia said.

Channel 13 went to adoptive mother Mindy Knapp's home in Urbandale, but there was no answer. Neighbors nearby did not want to be on camera, but said they don't find these allegations hard to believe.

"Lately, no, I don’t like the way they treat their kids, I don’t like the way those poor children are being shuffled from place to place, house to house, it's not a stable life," one neighbor said.

A life Malayia now says is worth celebrating.

"Just don’t give up. It was a long time before I ever got any help, you just have to be strong," she said.

Malayia’s attorneys say plans to sue the Department of Human Services are also in the works.