Abuse at Glen Mills Schools: Survivors Seek Justice


Rob Rosenthal [00:00:00] Hi again, everybody. And this is another episode of Ask the Lawyer. Today, we’re going to ask about some disturbing allegations surrounding a longtime reform school for children in Pennsylvania. I’m Rob Rosenthal with AskTheLawyers.com. And here to answer our questions is attorney Nancy Winkler of the law firm of Eisenberg, Rothweiler Winkler, Eisenberg and Jeck, based in Philadelphia. Nancy, thank you for taking some time for us today.

Nancy Winkler [00:00:22] Certainly.

Rob Rosenthal [00:00:23] So we’re talking about the Glen Mills School. Give us the background. What is allegedly or was alleged to have happened here at the Glen Mills School?

Nancy Winkler [00:00:32] The Glen Mills School has been in existence since the eighteen hundreds. And it’s on our sprawling land in Glen Mills, P.A. They have they’ve promoted themselves as having an educational strong educational program, physical education program, great football team. This is a place that kids from across the country have been sent. It is a school for juveniles who they tout on their web site, juvenile delinquents. It’s a place where courts have sent kids when they have had drug charges. As an alternative to jail, it’s a reform school. If they’ve had some other criminal conduct, also for truancy, also for things such as child was there who was autistic, and it was very difficult for his parents to care for him. And they wanted a safe environment. So they placed him at the Glen Mills School. They receive funding from the Philadelphia School District on a yearly basis for each people. Thousands of young boys have passed through the halls on a yearly basis. And it is we have learned recently that the conditions there have been horrific. These boys have been abused for years on end. There have been physical abuses as well as sexual abuses and emotional abuses for these young men. Their lives have been devastated.

Rob Rosenthal [00:02:14] And is this something that we’re just now learning about, Nancy? Is this. How long have these allegations been have had come to light?

Nancy Winkler [00:02:22] It is something that has come to light more recently. There has been a large expert say in the Philadelphia Inquirer this summer. There is currently a grand jury investigation into some of the conduct that has gone on for years. Some of the there have been counselors that have been brought up on charges. This is something that has only recently come to light.

Rob Rosenthal [00:02:48] Is the school still. Is it open now today as we speak? What is the status?

Nancy Winkler [00:02:54] It has been shut down by the state, however, there. If you look at their current web site, there is a new director and they are talking about opening the school again. Hopefully, that will never happen. Currently, we represent over 250 young men that have passed through those doors who have been abused. And as I say, that sent there not only from Pennsylvania but from states across the country. We have a gentleman that was sent there from Texas. And what they’ve gone through has been life-altering for them. They have not told family members for many years. They’ve kept it secret. People have had broken bones. People have had stitches. People have had emotional trauma that has just changed their lives forever. There have been young boys that have been raped. It is a place that needed to be shut down and a form thorough investigation criminally as well as civil actions need to be filed so that they can they justice can be served for the young boys whose lives have been altered.

Rob Rosenthal [00:04:11] Is it your understanding at this point that the administration was aware of these abuses? Are they and what are they saying? What did what is this school’s defensive reaction?

Nancy Winkler [00:04:23] We have just filed a few of these actions and we’ll be filing more. As I say, we represent over 250 young men today who have passed through those doors and have been abused. But it is our understanding that there has been a culture of abuse that has been perpetuated. And, you know, that has from the leadership down.

Rob Rosenthal [00:04:47] And I would imagine, as you said, it sounds like from their website that they’re planning to reopen it at this point. Is leadership saying these these allegations are false and none of this ever happened? Are they not saying anything worth? Where do they stand?

Nancy Winkler [00:05:00] Well, it’s not quite like that. I don’t know in terms of the grand jury investigation, we don’t know about that, obviously, because that is that is not open to the public. But what has been public? You know, they have appointed an independent counsel to do some investigation into the allegations. They are not really they’re not confirming or denying.

Rob Rosenthal [00:05:29] And so you mentioned your firm is handling a civil case against them. Who? Who do you see at this point? Who are you going after? Is that individuals? Do you use it against the administration? Is it the Philadelphia school system that supported it? Where did you find to hold responsible for all this?

Nancy Winkler [00:05:47] No, it is the Glen Mills schools that we have brought suit against. And we’ll be filing other lawsuits against. It is the Glen Mills School and the leadership that has perpetuated and encouraged and allowed this culture of abuse to take place.

Rob Rosenthal [00:06:02] And if someone is out there, you’ve said there’s been some students there from all over the country. And I would imagine we don’t know how long this may have been going on. How do they reach out to if there’s someone watching this video says they experienced that? Who do they reach out to?

Nancy Winkler [00:06:17] Well, you know, unfortunately, a lot of these young men have not told anybody about this. And our office and our co-counsel, we’ve been the very first people that they have ever talked about it to because it has been so difficult for them to be able to even discuss. But my suggestion is that you see counsel, you know, our office, as I say, is actively investigating all of these cases. It’s not just them in the Glendale school. As you know, we’ve come to learn it has been a horrific place when it had been touted to be a place that young man could go to, to have a healthy environment, to be able to get an education, to be able to go on with their lives and be reformed. It has done quite the opposite to these young men and has broken them. But this isn’t the only school that has done that. There is also the Deveraux Foundation. And I, you know, I don’t now rather know about it, but there have been allegations and there was just a verdict in Georgia against the Deveraux Foundation, which is a Pennsylvania corporation for abuse that had taken place at their facility. So if anyone has been abused, either sexually or physically abused, my suggestion is that you seek counsel, seek therapy first and foremost, because, you know, counsel can’t help you get better. We can help you get justice, but you need to seek some therapy to help get your life together.

Rob Rosenthal [00:07:50] What if they’re thinking, Nancy, I can’t afford counsel, I can’t afford a firm meal of your size and prestige. What do you say to that?

Nancy Winkler [00:07:58] We don’t charge anything for representation until we succeed. So if somebody comes to see me, I’m glad to speak with them, to meet with them, to see if I can take on their case, if I decide to take on their case. They don’t pay me anything until I get a recovery, either by settlement or by the verdict. So they have nothing to risk. We always take the risk. We, you know, we only handle very serious cases and my firm and we take risks every day of the week. We take a risk that is a calculated risk. We’re very careful about the cases we do take. But we, you know, largely represent people that need justice.

Rob Rosenthal [00:08:36] What if they’re you know, you guys are based in Philadelphia, but as you’ve said, it’s people all over the country if they’re out of the state of Pennsylvania. Do they need a plan to visit to physically to come to the office, at least in that initial consultation or what?

Nancy Winkler [00:08:49] I know they can. They can call me on the phone. I’ve done this through either of attorneys refer cases to us also throughout the country. But an individual that that has been harmed can call me on the phone. We can speak over the phone. We can do a face time or a Skype interview if we need to. We want me to meet in person. Things can be done through the mail, through e-mail. It’s a you know, the world is much smaller these days, Rob, than it was before. And it’s not a problem at all.

Rob Rosenthal [00:09:18] Now, you’ve mentioned you’re already are representing over 200 individuals. Are these of all ages or are they all tend to be recent students at the school or are there some of those go back years? What have you found?

Nancy Winkler [00:09:30] So. They are not all recent students at the school. Some of this does go back years. And depending upon the nature of the injury and the facts of the case, we might be able to take it on. So my best advice is if you’re unsure and you have been harmed either physically or sexually or both. Besides the emotional component, of course, that goes with all of that. My suggestion is that you seek counsel. I’ll be glad. To speak with you, if you call my office, as I’m sure other attorneys would. But we you know, we have a lot of information about this. This facility.

Rob Rosenthal [00:10:10] Nancy, thank you for sharing this information with a very troubling story. And I appreciate what you guys are doing to help out. Thank you. That’s going to do it for this episode of Ask the Lawyer. My guest has been attorney Nancy Winkler with the Philadelphia law firm of Eisenberg, Rothweiler, Winkler, Eisenberg & Jeck, P.C., if you’re ready to choose a lawyer that lawyers choose. Make sure to visit AskTheLawyers.com. Also, please subscribe to our YouTube channel by clicking on the button at the bottom of the screen. Thanks for watching. I’m Rob Rosenthal with AskTheLawyers.com.

Co-founder and senior shareholder of our law firm, Philadelphia medical malpractice attorney Kenneth M. Rothweiler began his career as a legal clerk for the Superior Court of Pennsylvania. Dedicated to complex personal injury litigation, he has tried more than 100 jury trials. These cases resulted in some of the largest verdicts in Pennsylvania.