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Couple sued for abuse by 19-year-old adopted daughter

ANKENY, Iowa - Six years ago, an Iowa couple was charged in a disturbing abuse case involving their adopted daughter. Now, the victim is filing a civil suit against them.

As a young teenager in 2012, Savannah Rose Willow lived in an Ankeny home with her adoptive parents.

She says its here she was physically and emotionally abused and locked in the basement, only allowed to leave for school.

The parents, Paul and Joann Drake, were eventually criminally charged.

An attorney said they pleaded guilty to false imprisonment and received a deferred judgment.

Some justice for Willow, but her attorney Teresa Pope says not enough.

"She has endured significant mental health issues," said Pope. "She's got a whole lot of trauma that she's addressing with her mental health therapists, and so the only way that we can compensate for that is monetary damages."

So Willow is now suing the Drakes, alleging assault, battery, and emotional distress.

Legal expert Trever Hook said civil cases come with a different burden of proof.

"Just on the balancing scales of justice, just a hair more evidence on one side is enough to win in a civil case," said Hook.

And with high profile cases like Natalie Finn and Sabrina Ray, Willow is hoping her story will be the one to bring about change.

"She knows now there are other children who face this same experience as her, and it's not uncommon and she wants to do whatever she can to make sure this doesn't happen again," said Pope.

Willow is also suing the Iowa Department of Human Services and the State of Iowa on the claim that those entities failed to protect her.


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