CHARLESTON -- The parents and grandmother of a minor are suing the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources after the minor was allegedly sexually assaulted by two older children.
Pressley Ridge of West Virginia and Braley & Thompson, Inc., were also named as defendants in the suit.
The Department was given temporary custody and responsibility for D.B. and on March 4, 2010, the Department and Braley & Thompson placed D.B. in Pressley’s White Oak facility, according to a complaint filed Oct. 10 in Kanawha Circuit Court.
Pamela Boggs, Michael Boggs and Margaret Boggs claim at the time D.B. was placed in White Oak, serious, pervasive and long-standing systemic deficiencies existed at the facility that jeopardized the safety and well-being of all White Oak residents and knowingly exposed them to the likely risk of injury and harm.
As of August 2010, D.B. was 13 years old and was of extremely slight build, measuring only 4’8” in height and weighing only 59 pounds, according to the suit.
The plaintiffs claim on Aug. 7, 2010, while in the care and custody of the defendants, D.B. was threatened by two older and physically superior male residents with bodily harm and forced to run away with them in the middle of the night.
The two males were able to walk out of the facility with D.B. without being noticed, detected or caught by the White Oak staff charged with supervising them, according to the suit, and after escaping, one of the males threatened D.B. with physical harm and forced him to engage in sexual conduct against his will and without his consent.
The plaintiffs claim the resident then threatened D.B. with physical harm if he told anyone what had happened and after the sexual assault, the residents and D.B. were able to get back into the White Oak facility without being noticed, detected or caught.
Multiple residents of White Oak had significant behavioral problems, which included sexually acting out, and the defendants were well-aware of the behavioral problems, according to the suit.
The plaintiffs claim on Aug. 10, 2010, the incident was reported and an investigation was conducted by the Department, which found that there were several supervision issues regarding the surroundings of the residents.
Despite finding that D.B. was the victim of a sexual assault and that staff training, supervision and performance were all deficient, D.B. was not moved out of White Oak until Oct. 11, 2010, according to the suit.
The plaintiffs claim the defendants were negligent in caring for D.B.
The defendants failed to exercise due care by placing D.B. into a facility that it knew or should have known was unsafe; failed to properly monitor and assess the safety of the facilities; and failed to properly train and supervise its staff in the proper way to monitor and assess the safety of the facilities, according to the suit.
The plaintiffs are seeking compensatory and punitive damages. They are being represented by Richard E. Holtzapfel and David A. Holtzapfel.
The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Jennifer Bailey.
Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 12-C-2043