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Verdict means adoptive father can't benefit from boy's death

Posted July 20, 2011

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— The adoptive father of a Johnston County boy who was killed five years ago cannot benefit from any wrongful death suits in the case following a jury's finding that he was partly to blame for the boy's death, an attorney said Wednesday.

Sean Paddock, 4, was bound so tightly in blankets on Feb. 26, 2006, that he suffocated. His adoptive mother, Lynn Paddock, was convicted in May 2008 of first-degree murder and felony child abuse and is now serving a life sentence in prison.

Prosecutors have said they didn't have enough evidence to charge Lynn Paddock's former husband, Johnny Paddock, in the criminal case. He has maintained that he wasn't aware of the abuse his wife inflicted on Sean and the couple's five other adopted children.

Still, a jury in a civil trial determined Tuesday that Johnny Paddock "aided and abetted" in Sean's death.

"It matters a great deal to the people who care about Sean," said Jay Trehy, one of the attorneys representing Sean's biological grandfather, Ron Ford.

Ford has also filed wrongful death suits against the Children’s Home Society of North Carolina Inc., which placed Sean with the Paddocks, and the state Department of Health and Human Services, which was responsible for monitoring the home through the local social services offices in Wake and Johnston counties.

Tuesday's verdict removes Johnny Paddock as Sean's legal father, meaning he won't receive any money awarded in those suits, Trehy said.

Johnny Paddock, Sean Paddock's adoptive father Verdict means adoptive father can't benefit from boy's death

Another trial will be held to seek damages from Johnny Paddock for Sean's death, but Trehy said it's unlikely they will ever see any money from that since Johnny Paddock has declared bankruptcy.

Ford plans to set up trusts for Sean's remaining siblings with whatever money is awarded in the lawsuits.

"Anyone who's spent that many years in such horrible abuse will be trying to recover for the rest of their lives," Trehy said.

The surviving Paddock children, including Johnny Paddock's daughter from a previous marriage, testified during Lynn Paddock's trial that she beat them almost daily with flexible plastic rods, wooden spoons and other devices. She also forced them to exercise or sit facing a wall for hours, controlled what they ate and when they went to the bathroom and denied them contact with other children and adults.

A forensic pediatrician described the abuse as "ritualistic torture" that was rooted in Lynn Paddock's obsessive need for control.

"They are products of cycle of violence we see," Trehy said of the children. "Lynn Paddock was abused as a child. She abused her child. We want it to end with this generation."

Three of the children are now in stable adoptive homes, and the other three are adults.

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  • elizadushkufan85 Jul 21, 2011

    Ford is NOT the father he is the grandfather. Did you not read the article?

  • Wake1 Jul 21, 2011

    Ford should have been the father he was supposed to be & not give his kid up for adoption!

  • fanoftheheels Jul 21, 2011

    This is so sad... poor little Sean..R.I.P!!! As for the so called adoptive mother....maybe someone will get ahold of her in prison and beat on her. She should be put in a room with no toilet and be made to sit in a chair facing a wall. People are so so cruel to children! Prayers to the other children who suffered as well.

  • uncw05 Jul 21, 2011

    dreamsvariation- you don't know that he was financially or physically able to care for a child, much less 3. 3 children can easily be too much to handle for someone in their 50s-60s, even if they are in good health. To assume he didn't take them because he didn't care is silly. There are tons of factors other than caring that play into that decision.

  • albertleon7 Jul 21, 2011

    God Bless Sean.

  • elizadushkufan85 Jul 20, 2011

    Everyone in the family had children and could not afford to take on another 3 children. The system would not split up the kids between the family members so that is why the grandfather did not have custody of Sean.

  • RomneyRyan2012 Jul 20, 2011

    What was wrong with my comment? I said that he can't profit from the child's death but Casey Anthony can? I will add that neither of them should be able to but I don't understand why one can and one can't. (Maybe this one will get posted...)

  • eccgc Jul 20, 2011

    What a precious child. There are so many couples who would loved to have adopted this child. The adoptive father had to know that abuse was going on. SHAME ON YOU! I hope you never profit from this child's death.

  • Dido Jul 20, 2011

    "The surviving Paddock children, including Johnny Paddock's daughter from a previous marriage, testified during Lynn Paddock's trial that she beat them almost daily with flexible plastic rods, wooden spoons and other devices. She also forced them to exercise or sit facing a wall for hours, controlled what they ate and when they went to the bathroom and denied them contact with other children and adults."~~And this so-called father has the gall to say he DIDN'T know this was happening?

  • TheConundrum Jul 20, 2011

    If the biological grandfather cared so much why didn't he have custody of Sean?