STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- A $900
That's trillion with a "t," and it's the
amount in damages which a West
Brighton woman seeks from the
city for, she alleges, improperly
placing her two sons in a Queens
foster home more than three years
Fausat Ogunbayo, 46, recently sued
the city and its Administration for
Children's Services (ACS) in
Brooklyn federal court, claiming
the defendants had violated both
her civil rights and her children's
by removing the boys from their
home here in June 2008.
The children, then 12 and 10 years
old, are now 16 and 13,
respectively. They have been out of
their mother's custody since being
relocated to Queens.
Ms. Ogunbayo alleges she and her
children have suffered "over three
years of terror, horror, grievous
harm, time lost, substantial
economic hardship and injuries"
due to their separation.
In removing the boys, the city
contended Ms. Ogunbayo was
mentally unstable and had refused
treatment, said court papers. She
allegedly suffered from
hallucinations and delusions, and
also left the boys at home alone for
extended periods while she was
working, the city maintained.
Ms. Ogunbayo, who is representing
herself, has branded the
allegations a "huge lie."
A recent appellate court ruling may
provide her some legal
Last month, the state Appellate
Division, Second Department, in a
separate legal case, vacated the
Family Court finding of neglect
against Ms. Ogunbayo.
There was no evidence, the
appellate panel determined, the
children were ever in "imminent
danger" of harm despite Ms.
Ogunbayo's refusal to
acknowledge her mental condition.
"Proof of mental illness alone will
not support a finding of neglect,"
unless there's a causal link
between the parent's condition
and actual or potential harm to the
child, said the court.
In fact, the youngsters had "near-
perfect" attendance in school and
"were doing well, even thriving,
academically," while in their
mother's care, the appellate
division said. In addition, the boys
were up to date on their medical
examinations and vaccinations,
and their heights and weights
were appropriate for their ages,
said the court.
While the appellate ruling restored
custody of her children to Ms.
Ogunbayo, she alleges ACS has
"refused" to return them.
A city Law Department
spokeswoman yesterday said the
children remain in ACS custody,
because the agency has filed a
new petition in Family Court.
Citing the pending litigation, the
spokeswoman declined comment
on the other allegations in Ms.
Ogunbayo's lawsuit, but said a
plaintiff's damages' demand "has
no bearing on whether the case
has any merit and no relation to
actual damages, if any."
Ms. Ogunbayo told the Advance last
night that the city is "treating me
very bad and now they want to
come around and lie against me."
The bottom line: She wants her
According to court papers, ACS
moved to take away Ms.
Ogunbayo's kids after receiving
several reports of suspected
mistreatment in mid-2008.
In one, she allegedly told a doctor
her children's skin was becoming
darker each day, due to radiation.
In another incident, she wrote her
children's school that the FBI and
Secret Service were out to get the
boys, ACS said in court papers.
Ms. Ogunbayo insisted she was
mentally stable, and the children
were removed because she
refused to seek "necessary
treatment for her mental health
issues," the agency contended.
ACS also maintained Ms. Ogunbayo
endangered the boys by leaving
them alone for up to seven hours
after school and all day on
weekends, said court papers.
In response, Ms. Ogunbayo
submitted a November 2008 letter
from the children's pediatricians,
saying they seemed to be well
cared for during the eight
preceding years in which they
were patients. Doctors also said
they hadn't seen Ms. Ogunbayo
She also provided handwritten
letters from her sons saying they
wished to live with their mom.
And court papers said her older
son was having some problems
with the law while in foster care --
he was arrested in Queens in
August of last year for alleged
In its ruling, the appellate court
said evidence that Ms. Ogunbayo
sometimes left her kids
unattended for long periods was
"vague and contradictory."
ACS failed to establish that any lack
of supervision on her part created
an impending risk to the children's
health, safety, or mental or
emotional condition, the court
The panel also recommended that
ACS provide -- and that Ms.
Ogunbayo accept -- "appropriate
services or referrals" to aid her
reunification with her children,
after more than three years apart.