Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health, with headquarters just outside of Philadelphia, has touted itself as expert in providing care to children with intellectual disabilities, mental disorders, and trauma. Its expansive organization operates 15 residential campuses, including three in Philadelphia suburbs and one in Deerhaven, New Jersey. Seven states and 33 Pennsylvania counties currently have contracts with the organization, with the organization charging up to $84,000 per child per year. Yet, despite receiving more than $467 million in annual revenue, the organization has become a breeding ground for child predators who have taken advantage of vulnerable youth and understaffed campuses, according to an investigative report by the Inquirer.
The report revealed that at least 41 children have been raped or sexually abused by staff members at Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health during the last 25 years. However, the abuse may have been even more expansive since about three out of every four sexual assaults are never reported, according to statistics from the Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network (RAINN).
If you were a victim of physical or sexual abuse at Devereux or you know someone who was, you may be able to take legal action even if criminal charges were not filed at the time of your abuse. At Eisenberg, Rothweiler, Winkler, Eisenberg & Jeck, P.C., we will work closely with you to determine your legal options and demand full financial compensation for the harm you have suffered. Our compassionate child abuse attorneys have a long track record of handling sensitive cases like these and in delivering significant results for our clients. We can discuss your legal rights and in a safe setting. Contact us today to get started.
Abuse for Years at Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health
According to the Inquirer’s investigation, the abuse at Devereux lasted for many years and spanned multiple campuses. Some of the victims were as young as 12 and had IQs as low as 50. Several former residents have come forward and reported horrifying stories of sexual abuse at Devereux, including:
- Nine girls reported a staff member at the Deerhaven campus who was criminally charged with fondling or engaging in sex acts with minors as a result
- Four more Deerhaven patients reported a second staff member who sexually assaulted them
- A third Deerhaven staff member was charged with sexually assaulting three girls
- A troubled Philadelphia teen whose mother had died from a drug overdose who exchanged love letters with a 43-year-old staffer was blamed for the love letters, later instructed to send him naked photos, and was sexually abused by him for months
- Two teen boys were pushed into a walk-in closet at one of the other campuses and sexually abused there. The administration knew for years children were not visible in these areas, but nothing was done to correct the situation
- A 16-year-old girl reported being sexually abused at Devereux and that the offender threatened to have her beaten up
- A former 15-year-old sex trafficking victim reported being raped twice at Devereux
Some of the victims had prior histories of sexual abuse. Predatory staff members would sometimes review patient files and use the details about their prior sexual abuse to assault the children and claim they were having flashbacks of prior abuse.
Reporters found that administrators and higher ups took decades to admit to the chronic understaffing problems and failure to supervise residents and staff members that contributed to the abuse. In addition to other deficiencies, investigators found Devereux:
- Failed to identify when sexual abuse occurred on their campuses, leaving it to children with intellectual disabilities and behavioral disorders to report the abuse
- Failed to identify clear warning signs of sexual abuse or grooming
- Allowed workers with prior histories involving sexual offenses to work on its campuses
- Turned a blind eye to staff members leaving in the middle of shifts and often “disappearing”
- Allowed staff members who were supposed to be supervising children to sleep, play video games, or text during their shift
- Allowed architectural elements that obscured children from view of other staff members to remain on campuses for years without correction
- Failed to follow through on educational programs, trainings, and other corrective actions that could have helped identify and prevent sexual abuse
At least 20 staff members at the organization have been charged with sexual assault and related offenses. A recent jury returned a verdict of $55 million against Devereux in favor of a young woman who had been raped by a staff member in her bedroom while a resident at the facility.
Do You Know Someone Impacted?
Survivors of physical and sexual abuse often suffer for years as they try to understand why the abuse happened, sometimes blaming themselves in the process. They may suffer from serious mental or emotional disorders and may require long-term treatment.
The child sexual abuse and rape attorneys at Eisenberg, Rothweiler, Winkler, Eisenberg & Jeck, P.C., will work sensitively and compassionately on your case. We believe in using all of our resources to help the victims of child sexual and physical abuse to hold the criminals responsible for their reprehensible actions. We will guide you through the process and champion your rights. If you, your child, or someone else you know was a victim of physical or sexual abuse at one of the Devereux locations, contact us today to begin the process of healing and seeking justice.
Philadelphia Sexual Abuse Lawyers Can Help
Abuse that occurred during the formative years can leave lasting physical, emotional, and mental scars on survivors. The dedicated legal team at Eisenberg, Rothweiler, Winkler, Eisenberg & Jeck, P.C., can help you pursue monetary compensation for the harm that you have suffered to help ease your burden.
Our firm is prepared to devote the extra time, resources, and effort that are required in these complex cases. Our attorneys have a track record of successfully obtaining awards against organizations that failed to protect the vulnerable members of our community. Contact us today for your free, no-obligation consultation.