Sexual assault is a terrible crime that can have a serious impact on the health and wellbeing of those that suffer from the trauma of an attack. This is especially true when those survivors are young people. Unfortunately, perpetrators of these kinds of assaults often pick the most vulnerable among us as their targets. We’ve seen this horrifying dynamic play out in recent local news articles highlighting the prevalence of sexual assault against residents at centers for the treatment of children with intellectual disabilities.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that at least 41 children have been sexually assaulted at Devereux Advanced Behavioural Health centers during the last two decades, with more than 10 instances occurring at centers in the Philadelphia metropolitan region and New Jersey. These situations involve both employees of the centers and other residents. A similar assault also reportedly occurred at Woods Services in Bucks County, wherein a resident was assaulted by an older teenager. In this case, the facility even failed to report the incident to the victim’s parents and neglected to seek medical treatment for the child.
The mental and emotional toll of these attacks can be devastating to survivors and their families, often resulting in a range of emotional issues related to trauma like depression and post traumatic stress disorder. Many of the kids at these centers for children with intellectual disabilities already suffer enough as a result of stigma and other challenges they face through no fault of their own. These facilities are responsible for ensuring for their residents’ wellbeing, and when they’re negligent in their duty to care for their residents, they can be held accountable.
Malpractice and injury laws exist to recover monetary damages for the physical and emotional harm a patient suffers as a result of the negligence of nonprofits and medical facilities. If a loved one suffered abuse at one of these centers or a similar facility, you may have a case and be able to get compensation for your family’s suffering.
Centers at Fault for Child Abuse
While the specific reasons for child abuse cases vary depending in the situation, there is a pattern of negligence at behavioural health centers that is all too common. Much of the problem lies with the way these facilities are staffed and supervised. When these centers are understaffed, there are not enough well-trained staff to supervise the residents and staff are kept too busy to notice signs of abuse. This creates an environment where residents aren’t protected, meaning those with intent to harm them have easier access to them.
For these kinds of facilities to be understaffed or have under-trained staff is especially difficult to accept as they make huge profits while promising to look after children with special learning and behavioural needs. Devereux Advanced Behavioural Health is classified as a non-profit, but brings in more than $460 million in revenues. Despite the massive resources at their disposal, there are numerous reports of staff members disappearing or sleeping through shifts.
This lack of supervision is two-fold. These staff members need to be better supervised and the residents need to be better supervised by the staff. Unfortunately, it’s clear that they have made little attempt to change this dangerous institutional culture that harms the residents they’re entrusted with. Even after decades of this kind of abuse occurring, initiatives like improved employment screenings and training have been quickly abandoned.
Intellectual Disabilities Abuse Lawyer
The simple truth is that abuse at these kinds of facilities is ongoing because they choose profits over the people they’re supposed to protect. Improving the level of supervision by increasing staff members and training would hurt their bottom line. They’re looking out for themselves, but who is looking after the survivors who may face long-term trauma as a result?
If a loved one suffered abuse as a result of the negligence of a behavioural health center, you should contact a knowledgeable attorney as soon as possible. Only a lawyer can help you navigate all of your legal avenues, to help you and your family get the best possible result.
With over 30 years of personal injury law experience, McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt has the necessary expertise to fully evaluate your legal case and get you the payout you deserve. To schedule a meeting for a free consultation, fill out our form or call us directly at 1-800-590-4116.