Claim Filed Against County in Dyson Child-Abuse Case

Times Staff Writer

A claim has been filed for unspecified damages against the county on behalf of six children allegedly abused by Henri Jo Dyson, a foster parent licensed by the Department of Social Services.

The claim, filed by attorney Joe B. Cordileone on Wednesday, states that the social services department “did not provide the minors a suitable family home environment.” Further, the department’s periodic reviews of the Dyson home were “inadequate to detect profoundly unsafe conditions and dangers present to the minors in the foster care.”

The children, who ranged in age from 2 to 13 years, suffered “extreme mental and emotional injury as a result of being physically and emotionally abused by Henri Jo Dyson, a foster parent selected by the county. They were also abused by others known to be in the home of the foster parents,” according to the claim.

Several Charges Made


The claim made several allegations. Among them were that, while under Dyson’s care, the children were allegedly given mind-altering drugs, subjected to death threats, subjected to beatings with sticks while tied down and were also tortured.

The claim said there was a failure to adequately clothe, feed and house the children.

Claims must be filed with the county’s risk-management division within six months of the time of injury, Cordileone said. The Board of Supervisors must reject the claim before a lawsuit can be filed.

“You’re not allowed to sue the government unless you ask permission,” Cordileone said. “We have to let them (the Board of Supervisors) know the claim is out there. Typically, they deny claims outright.”


Department of Social Services officials declined to comment on the case.

Questions were raised about Dyson and her son Harold, 24, on Jan. 6 after a bruised and unconscious 17-month-old boy in their care had to be hospitalized.

Physicians believe the boy went into shock and slipped into a coma after being subjected to a cold-water enema. The Dysons were arrested two weeks later at their Mira Mesa home, in the 8700 block of Pagoda Way.

Henri Jo Dyson, 41, is charged with child endangerment, child abuse and two counts of molesting two children in her home. Harold Dyson is charged with four counts of child endangerment.


Innocent Pleas Entered

Both pleaded innocent to the charges last week in Superior Court. Henri Jo Dyson is free on $125,000 bail.

Harold Dyson was arrested Thursday after failing to show up in court for a bail-review hearing, and Superior Court Judge Andrew Wagner issued a warrant for his arrest. He had been free on $50,000 bail.

He was arrested without incident about four hours later near his home, according to San Diego Police Officer Rick Carlson, who works in the child-abuse unit.


Harold Dyson’s attorney, Gary Edwards, said his client wrote down the wrong date for the review hearing but showed up at the courthouse several hours later Thursday.

The bail review was rescheduled for Monday.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Harry Elias scheduled the session because Harold Dyson reportedly had improper contact with someone on the case. Carlson confirmed that Harold Dyson had begun following him in his car and making inappropriate comments and gestures.

“He was yelling profanities at me,” Carlson said.


The mother and son are scheduled to be tried Sept. 18.