Broken Bonds: Abused girl saved by foster system

Sierra Downs does not remember the beating.

But county officials do.

Fourteen years ago, a 2-year-old girl survived a beating that earned the notorious distinction of being the worst physical abuse case in Hall County history at the time.

“It was the type of thing that just broke your heart,” said Connie Stephens, director at the Hall-Dawson Court-Appointed Special Advocate program, which helped oversee Sierra’s transition into foster care.

Sierra does not remember rejecting the family that welcomed her into their home.

But her adopted mother does.

“She spoke no English, and she was very afraid of everyone,” said Vicki Downs. “She had serious trust issues. She didn’t want you to look at her, talk to her, nothing.”

Sierra does not remember so many of the details of what led to the state removing her from her biological parents’ care.

But she does not need to.

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