A 19-year-old native of China adopted as an infant in the U.S. alleges that her adoptive parents starved and beat her, handcuffed her in a basement “dungeon” reeking of human waste, and forced her into slave labor before she escaped in 2018, according to a lawsuit filed Monday in New Hampshire.
Olivia Atkocaitis says in the lawsuit that her adoptive parents, Thomas and Denise Atkocaitis, denied her an education and healthcare and threatened her with deportation if she did not behave.
“This is an extremely disturbing story,” said her attorney Michael Lewis. “For a place that is as small and wealthy as New Hampshire, to not have solved this, is distressing. This is a systemic issue.”
The parents were arrested by the New Boston Police Department on Oct. 18, 2018. They made plea deals in the case which allowed Denise to avoid jail time while Thomas received a short jail term. Olivia’s lawsuit also alleges that New Hampshire’s child protective services agency, police, and other institutions failed to protect her.
Michael Courtney, who serves as counsel for the town of New Boston, denied the allegations, according to New Hampshire Public Radio .
He told the station that the investigation “led to the removal of the plaintiff from the home and conditions her adopted parents subjected her to.”
“It was also the New Boston Police Department who filed felony level charges and arrested both Thomas and Denise Atkocaitis for offenses committed against the Plaintiff,” Courtney wrote, according to NHPR.
New Boston, New Hampshire, is about 65 miles north of Boston.
Olivia’s complaint chronicles a living nightmare.
It says she repeatedly tried to escape from the home over the years, but local police hunted her down, reprimanded her for escaping, and returned her to servitude.
“Her parents imprisoned her in a dungeon basement room,” court documents state. “They forced her to act as their personal servant. They subjected her to punitive manual labor. They isolated her. They withheld a public education from her. They starved her and beat her. They hurled the most vile, racial epithets at her. They withheld necessary healthcare from her. They failed to confirm her status as a US citizen and threatened her with terror, including extradition.”
“Olivia’s story should shock the conscience of any person who claims to have one,” the complaint also said. “She seeks justice through this lawsuit.”
Court records document Atkocaitis’ life from the time she was brought to the U.S. from China as an infant and “delivered by the state and an international adoption agency to criminals and child abusers in her first months of life.”
“She was only able to bring this civil action because she dug her way through the walls of a basement prison, and then ran for her life, to freedom, after suffering years of imprisonment and forced servitude within a home the defendants placed her in, and to which the defendants returned her, repeatedly,” the records state.
Olivia was being raised in an orphanage in the Hunan Province of China when she was adopted, and she does not know her biological parents or biological family members, court documents state. She was adopted during China’s “one-child” policy, which prohibited families from having more than one child as part of a nationwide population control mandate.
The basement room where she was kept had no heat, no ventilation, and no running water, according to the lawsuit. The only window was covered with chicken wire.
The couple allegedly subjected her to mental abuse, including being told she had been left in a trash can by her birth mother who did not love her.
She was forced to perform massages on her adoptive mother every day. Sometimes she was force-fed, while other times her adoptive parents did not feed her as punishment. She claims was isolated from other children and neighbors.
Olivia says that at one point, she was forced to stand in a bathtub while her parents poured hot sauce down her throat and then forced to eat her vomit.
“According to at least one Atkocaitis sibling, Denise Atkocaitis viewed Olivia as garbage, hated her, acted hatefully toward her, and conditioned other children in the household to hate Olivia,” the complaint said. “That sibling reported that Denise would become so enraged at the household children that she would urinate when yelling at them and begin foaming at the mouth. That sibling reported that Denise’s behavior toward Olivia was significantly more violent, degrading, demeaning and hateful.”
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