DIETRICH, Idaho — The first child they adopted was a 2-year-old from the Marshall Islands who had rotten teeth and a large abscess covering the side of his face.
At the time, the family of Tim and Shelly McDaniel was still passably conventional in this no-stoplight town of 330, surrounded by high desert dotted with sagebrush and cattle.
But since that first adoption in 2000, the couple have brought into their fold 19 more castaway kids from all over the country — most from troubled families, and half of them black. The McDaniels now provide their town, in Idaho’s conservative Mormon country, with the entirety of its black population, save one mixed-race child from another family.
It is a town in turmoil, thrust into national headlines by a tale of racially charged violence and negligence graphically detailed in a $10 million lawsuit the McDaniels filed last week against the 230-student school district. The suit claims that three players on the high school football team sexually assaulted a mentally disabled teammate — a son of the McDaniels — with a coat hanger, which they kicked deep into his rectum. The three alleged assailants are white; the McDaniels’ son is black.
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