West Virginia Record

Thursday, February 27, 2020

DNR settles Logan state park sexual assault suit for $50K

By Lawrence Smith | Mar 16, 2011

CHARLESTON – The state Division of Natural Resources has settled a Logan County couple's lawsuit alleging one of its employees sexually assaulted their daughter at Chief Logan State Park.

Harold and Patricia Adkins of Logan on Dec. 15 brought to a close the suit they filed against DNR, and Rick Wells on Oct. 14, 2009. In their suit, the Adkins' alleged Wells made improper advances on their teenage daughter, Emily, on July 30 that year when the two were working in a secluded area of the park.

At the time Emily was 15 years old and working with another teenager under Wells' supervision picking up trash. The suit alleges while the two were alone at a gazebo, Wells "began encroaching on her" when he "grabbed her and stuck his hands down her pants" asking "'Do you like it?'"

Despite his admonishment "'not to tell anyone,'" Emily reported the encounter first to Mike Ward, a park supervisor, then to her parents. According to the suit, though the Adkinses made a police report, no criminal charges were pressed against Wells.

According to the settlement, DNR, via AIG Casualty Company, agreed to pay the Adkinses $50,000 admitting no wrongdoing. From that amount, the state Department of Health and Human Resources was reimbursed $546 for paying its portion of the $939 in medical expenses Emily incurred following her encounter with Wells, and their attorney, John Einreinhofer, was paid $24,393.22 for his legal fees, and expenses.

The remaining $25,060.78 was to be placed in an interest-bearing CD or savings account at an undisclosed financial institution in Harrison County until Emily turns 18. Patricia was named as the account's trustee.

For serving as the guardian ad litem in the case, AIG paid Travis Griffith, with the Charleston law firm of Olivio and Griffith, $1,400 separate from the settlement.

Judge Carrie Webster approved the settlement and dismissed the suit on Jan. 19. The suit was filed in Kanawha Circuit Court because it has original jurisdiction in lawsuits involving state agencies.

According the state Board of Risk and Insurance Management, DNR incurred $37,860.39 in legal expenses defending itself in the suit. Lou Ann Cyrus with Shuman, McCuskey and Slicer was paid $23,166.56 for defending DNR, and Jennifer E. Tully with the Charleston law firm of Pullin, Fowler, Flanagan, Brown and Poe was paid $11.161.75 to represent Wells.

Another $3,532.08 was paid in miscellaneous legal expenses including $1,068.75 to the law firm of Cyrus and Adkins for mediating the suit.

It is unclear if Wells is still employed with DNR. The state Auditor's Office has no record of him currently or ever being on the state payroll.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number 09-C-1921

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