Cops and Courts, Latest News

Parents of 6 children file $10M federal lawsuit

KINGWOOD — Parents of six children  filed a $10 million federal lawsuit against Preston Circuit Judge Steve Shaffer and three others, saying their constitutional rights were violated.

 Scott Richard Nestor and Celina Dawn Sansone filed suit against Shaffer, Preston Assistant Prosecutor Anne Armstrong, Morgantown attorney Kristen Antolini and Carrie Poier of the State Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR).

Nestor and Sansone allege  they were deprived of their rights to freedom of religion, speech, protection from unreasonable search and seizure, due process,  to assemble peacefully and to petition government for redress.

“Everything has been taken from us, our house, car, kids and freedom,” they say in the suit.

They want the court to grant them $10 million and return their six children, who are in foster care, and drop the case against them involving the children.

In the suit, Nestor and Sansone say their home was “unjustly seized” in July 2019.  Antolini was appointed guardian ad litem to represent  the  children, now aged 4, 9, 10, 11, 14 and 16. Nestor and Sansone say she lied in order to get the children  taken away.

Judge Shaffer, whom they accuse of being biased,  should not have heard the case because he  represented Sansone’s  landlord in a 2018 eviction case, when Shaffer was in private practice, they say.

Paperwork on file at the Preston County Courthouse shows  Shaffer asked the State Supreme Court whether he should disqualify himself from the case. 

The court said he could stay on the case. Sansone and Nestor say Shaffer hid the facts of his involvement from the higher court.

The couple also says  an Aug. 20, 2019, hearing was changed to a status conference after Sansone complained to  the Preston County Sheriff’s Department about a deputy she said sent her inappropriate  text messages.

They contend the court transcript will not match the audio of hearings held Aug. 16 and 20.

 The suit also denies Antolini’s alleged statements that they were “squatting” and the children had no home and were not being adequately cared for or schooled. They accuse Armstrong of a three-year “fishing expedition” to get their kids removed.

The couple says Antolini showed the court photos of a home they hadn’t lived in for a month and had “intentionally wrecked out of anger” for being evicted. According to paperwork in Preston Circuit Court, the mobile home was littered with sewage and had fleas, ants, rotten plates of food and no water in the bathroom.

 They also accuse Antolini of calling one of the children a “cry baby” and of suppressing a  DHHR report favorable to them.

They also say they were discriminated against even though they had been in a “successful” drug treatment program for 11 years.  

The children were remanded to foster care. According to police statement’s in the court files, their parents hid them for six months before they were located at a residence on Austin Way in Monongalia County.

Sansone was indicted by the Preston County Grand Jury in October 2019 on a charge of fraudulent vehicle registration, stemming from a January 2019 accident. She and Nestor were each indicted in June 2020 on six counts of child concealment and one count of conspiracy.

All of the cases are still pending before the court. Nestor and Sansone said excessive bail was set. Both are free on bond.

The parents say they have not been allowed to have contact with their children and that some  have been abused in foster care. The children have also been vaccinated and received medical care without their approval.

 The couple say they staged a protest in front of the Preston Courthouse and were told by Shaffer not to do it again or they’d go to jail.

TWEET @DominionPostWV