Adopted Teen to Sue Iowa DHS Over Abuse Claims

Malayia Knapp (WHO-HD)

POLK COUNTY, Iowa — Nineteen-year-old Malayia Knapp fled her adoptive parents’ Urbandale home in 2015 claiming abuse.

Monday evening, Knapp filed claims against the Department of Human Services. Knapp’s attorney says this is the first time in Iowa that a former adopted child has sought legal recourse over what she says is negligence by the DHS and its workers.

Two claims have been filed, one against DHS and the other against the DHS workers involved in the case. Each claim is seeking $500,000 in personal injury damages.

Malayia ran away from home in December of 2015 after she says one of her half-siblings was forced by their adoptive mother, Mindy Knapp, to abuse her. She claims she and another half-sister were forced to exercise excessively outdoors, without shoes, and had buckets of water poured on them.

Malayia was able to get away to a nearby convenience store and call police. It would still take another 20 months before DHS removed her younger sibling from the home.

The DHS is now facing a legal battle as Knapp has filed notice she intends to sue the state, saying DHS workers ignored obvious signs of abuse during visits to her home.

The claim against the state says investigators found, “The strong smell of urine where Malayia slept, the metal door that could not be opened from the inside, the video surveillance, and alarmed doors.”

Malayia Knapp has already filed a civil lawsuit against her adoptive mother Mindy Knapp. A trial date in the case has not yet been scheduled.