10/13/2010 // West Palm Beach, FL, US // Sandra Quinlan // Sandra Quinlan
Pembroke Pines, FL—The Southern Poverty Law Center filed a civil rights lawsuit on behalf of two teenagers that were allegedly attacked at a Pembroke Pines-based youth offender and treatment facility. The lawsuit, filed in federal court Friday, October 8, 2010, names Thompson Academy, its operator, Youth Services International, and the state of Florida as defendants, as reported by the Palm Beach Post.
According to the lawsuit, a Thomas Academy staffer sexually assaulted a 15-year-old Boca Raton boy, identified as D.B., twice during his stay at the facility. The lawsuit alleges D.B. attempted to commit suicide at the facility three times. He was reportedly taken to Thomas Academy in December 2009 for “two assault-related crimes and two property-related crimes.”
The civil rights lawsuit also claims a second boy, 16-year-old D.L., was physically assaulted upon seeking access to a lawyer. D.L. also allegedly lost privileges and had his confinement extended as a result.
The suit also claims kids with asthma were forced to sleep on the floors of other youths’ rooms due to muggy and moldy conditions. Additionally, the Southern Poverty Law Center contends the defendants didn’t do enough to keep the 154 male children being detained at Thomas Academy safe.
The lawsuit seeks monetary damages for D.B., arguing that the facility failed to protect him from sexual assault, spurring feelings of emotional anguish. The Department of Children and Families is expected to conduct a full investigation of Thompson Academy’s practices.
Along with Youth Service International President James Slattery, Florida Department of Justice Secretary Frank Peterman and Thompson Academy Administrator Craig Ferguson, two staffers were also named as defendants in the pending lawsuit.
According to Youth Service International’ senior vice president, Jesse Williams, “We don’t abuse kids… If the staff abuses kids and we become aware of it, even if it’s an allegation, we take immediate steps to protect the kids in our care. That’s what we did in this case, we removed the staffer from contact.”
Williams also called the lawsuit’s claims unsubstantiated, stating, “We look forward and welcome the opportunity to defend those in court.”
The case is underway.
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Url: Sandra Quinlan: West Palm Beach Injury News