George and Betty McFetridge Lose Suit Against County Social Workers Who Labeled Them Child Abusers for Cutting Daughter's Hair

A jury ruled against an Irvine couple who sued the County of Orange after being placed on the state's child abuse registry for punishing their adopted daughter by cutting her hair.

George and Betty McFetridge had sought $28,000 to cover the cost of sending the teenager to a residential program and $1 for each of the 11 months their names appeared on the Child Abuse Central Index.

The wife meted out--and her husband agreed with--the clipping punishment imposed on the girl for running away from home and not disclosing her whereabouts in 2008. A county social worker later deemed it "inconclusive" whether the haircut amounted to child abuse. State law at the time required parents and guardians be named on the child abuse list even if findings are inconclusive.

The Orange County Social Services Agency stood by the employees named in the McFetridge's suit, noting they were only doing their jobs by following state law, which has since been changed to require "substantiated" findings before labeling someone a child abuser.

For their part, the McFetridges express disappointment with the jury's Wednesday ruling, according to a Los Angeles Times follow-up. However, the couple is pleased to have exposed the county's treatment of adoptive parents, claiming that was the motivation for their complaint, not the money.

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