Abuse at Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health
A new investigative report by the Inquirer found that at least 41 children have been raped or sexually abused by staff members at Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health during the last 25 years. Devereux, with its headquarters just outside of Philadelphia, operates 15 residential campuses that serve 5,000 children across nine states. It specializes in treating children with intellectual disabilities, mental disorders, and trauma and is the nation’s leading nonprofit health organization of its kind. Despite being in the business to help children for more than a century, the report unveils long-occurring abuse at the organization and an administration that ignored warning signs.
Abuse Occurring for Years at Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health
The Inquirer’s investigation consisted of a thorough review of court records, medical records, incident reports, therapy notes, pay stubs, text messages, and police reports and interviews with current and former staff, law enforcement officials, and residents. It revealed that abuse had been going on for years, and little had been done to stop or prevent it.
Of the 41 children identified as having been sexually abused, 10 said they were assaulted at Devereux’s three campuses in Philadelphia suburbs. Some of the victims of the nationwide establishment were as young as 12 and some had IQs as low as 50.
The reports of abuse are harrowing. Three girls at one campus told police they had been sexually abused by a male staffer in their bedrooms and in the facility’s laundry room. At another facility, four children reported a staff member had sexually abused them, including a 12-year-old who said he had molested her several times and a 16-year-old who said the staffer threatened to have her beaten up. Another boy reported that a male staffer had sexually assaulted him for months.
Police said 16 girls had been victims of sexual abuse at one of the facilities between 1996 and 1999. Sometimes, the children had prior histories of sexual abuse before going to the facility where they became victims of additional sexual abuse at Devereux.
. The Inquirer’s investigation found that Devereux’s programs had long been hunting grounds for predators who could find vulnerable victims. It found the organization had systematically understaffed its campuses and failed to adequately supervise its residents and staff members. The investigation revealed that it took decades for Devereux to acknowledge these issues.
At least 20 staff members at the organization have been charged with sexual assault and related offenses. Recently, a jury returned a verdict of $55 million for a woman who had been raped by a staff member in her bedroom at Devereux.
Philadelphia Sexual Abuse Lawyers Can Help
If you or your child was a resident at one of the Devereux locations and was physically or sexually abused by staff or another resident, the child abuse attorneys at Eisenberg, Rothweiler, Winkler, Eisenberg & Jeck, P.C. are here to help. We have the knowledge and experience necessary to help you seek the justice you deserve. Contact us today for help getting your claim started.
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.