A Colorado couple filed a federal civil rights lawsuit Monday against several Kansas state and local entities for “unconstitutionally seizing” their five children after a three-year-long custody battle.
Defendants include the Kansas Department of Children and Families, Riley County Police Department, Pawnee Mental Health Services, St. Francis Community Services and others.
Raymond and Amelia Schwab accuse the respondents of a number of charges, including deprivation of constitutional rights, causing irreparable harm, slander, negligence and malpractice, and public disclosure of private facts.
The Schwabs said the Kansas Department of Children and Families illegally took their children from them in April 2015 after Amelia’s mother told police the children had been abandoned. The Schwabs were preparing to move from Dickinson County to Colorado for Raymond’s new job placement. Pleadings on the case were heard in Riley County District Court.
In the lawsuit, the Schwabs said the children were seized without a warrant, investigation, contacting them, or examining the family’s residence. They also said they did not receive legal paperwork describing why their children were in custody.
Originally, Raymond said their children were taken because he used medicinal marijuana to treat his PTSD, but the Kansas Court of Appeals ruled it was because of “allegations of drug use, neglect and lack of supervision.”
During the yearslong ordeal, the Schwabs said they were threatened, ignored and not notified of developments regarding the care of their children while they separated.
In March 2016, Raymond established a protest and undertook a hunger strike in front of the Kansas Capitol.
The Schwabs were able to stop the state from ending their parental rights in 2017, but were not completely reunited with all their children until August 2018. Since then, the family has moved to Colorado.