Author Topic: Pierceton Woods Academy testimonies  (Read 2805 times)

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Offline Oscar

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Pierceton Woods Academy testimonies
« on: April 30, 2023, 02:01:19 AM »
The Google reviews are kind of mixed for this facility.

Quote from: Benjamin Green
I have lived here for one year and months and highly recommend considering you options when coming to this facility. My experience was absolutely horrendous. I was not helped when coming to this facility in fact was set further behind and was given less opportunity. There were care specialists that were clearly biased and gave favoritism to other residents. Not only this, I was promised full confidentiality of all treatment information but I was not given this respect and this caused me more troubles. I was put down by other residents and I was not helped by the care specialists. I was discharged unsuccessfully because of failed polygraph in  which I was forced to take by the facility and what was worse is I had been truthful, but had been called a liar. These polygraphs have caused the fall of so many residents and in my entire 14 months of stay,  I saw only 1 person discharge by completion of the program. These residents are undergoing a tremendous amount of stress, I know because of the social awkwardness that I still have today.  The facility also does not have a welcoming setting, I felt I was in solitary confinement . These people will walk out with more mental problems and will likely discharge unsuccessfully. In my personal opinion, avoid this place at all costs. In the mist of all this, they did offer a great christian environment but may be a problem if there were one who was not christian. The care specialists generally liked to show christian movies and shows. One more thing, the school offered had no opportunity, most of the schooling was on computer and classes offered were chosen for you, generally an elective like basic skills or Indiana studies. So complicated classes such as algebra had to be self taught on a computer. Please consider all of your options when coming to this facility, because generally any other residental is better than here.

Quote from: dillon johnson
Fired a good staff member for completely bs reasons and treated them poorly with clear bias for certain members. Not very understanding of staff having to do what they can to keep things under control in high stress situations with zero help from other staff even if it doesn't 110% go the way management wants it to go.

Quote from: Pamela Copley
Horrible place to work!!! They are alway short staffed. Was hired for zero Sundays and I can?t even go to church yet this is supposed to be a ?Christian? company. They do not allow me to go to church. This place is a joke. The management never helps and just lets us work short staffed. Kids are always beating up staff and running away. Setting fires. Yet no one here to help. This company is a joke! I never call off I?m always at work and they won?t even let me e cerise my rights to go to church.


Quote from: Fox-A-Million JiffyPaws
As someone who successfully discharged from the facility. I say, depending on the kind of environment you want your child in, this may, or may not be a good place. They may have good staff, but many staff who work here are power hungry when it comes to position. I would recommend somewhere else, but it is your choice.

Quote from: Direct Marketing LLC
i mean its not meant to be fun. But most of the officers are disrespectful asholes that break you down because they make NO money. Mr.White especially was a ugly as dude who would make fun of me and laugh at my own expense. Somedays they dont even let you out of your cell for rec. #ShutDown

Offline Oscar

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Re: Pierceton Woods Academy testimonies
« Reply #1 on: April 30, 2023, 02:10:37 AM »
Article found online

Quote
Sexual Assault Lawsuit Filed Against Pierceton Woods
Amanda Bridgman, Staff Writer - Monday, October 26, 2020 6:00 AM

A lawsuit has been filed against Pierceton Woods Academy and employees there after a juvenile reported he?d been a victim of sexual assault while under their supervision.

Pierceton Woods Academy, 27 Pequignot Drive, is a residential placement facility for boys in grades 7 through 12 in need of services. It is a private Christian alternative school with a teacher to student ratio of 1:7, according to privateschoolreview.com. The facility is managed by LifeLine Youth & Family Services Inc. and Lasting Change Inc.

Attorney Travis McConnell filed a civil suit Thursday in Kosciusko Circuit Court on behalf of his client, a man whose minor son was a resident and alleged victim at Pierceton Woods Academy.

The suit is against Lasting Change Inc.; LifeLine Youth & Family Services Inc.; Darby Ellis Perry, an employee there; Brian Perry, an employee; Joe Gough, vice president of residential services; and Mark Terrell, CEO.

According to court papers, the lawsuit alleges Darby engaged in a pattern of conduct over multiple years where she methodically seduced multiple children to engage in sexual acts with her on the grounds of the academy and at local venues during unsupervised outings with the minors. The lawsuit alleges the outings were permitted by LifeLine and Lasting Change, ?in conformity with the institution?s lax policies.?

The suit claims both LifeLine and Lasting Change were negligent and owed a duty to prevent sexual assault against the residents under its charge.

A battery claim is charged against Darby for her alleged behavior between July and December 2019 against the minor plaintiff where she would ?work to change the hearts of the residents by earning trust through promises and counseling; inducing or encouraging residents to use drugs and promising that she would not report said use to supervisors; falsifying drug screen reports for residents; repeatedly telling residents they were in the ?circle of trust?; engaging in dirty talk and encouraging gossip of the same; kissing; full-front hugging; handholding, and allowing and encouraging hands to be placed on buttocks or other areas of her body; fondling of her body, including genitalia, and of other residents; requesting penetration from other residents; performing oral sex on the residents; and engaging in sexual intercourse with residents on their 18th birthday and beyond.?

The suit claims that in 2017, Darby was the suspect of an investigation with law enforcement involving accusations of sexual assault on another resident at the academy. Other staff members there also told of Darby?s inappropriate activities, the suit alleges.

The lawsuit further says that LifeLine and Lasting Change took no preventative actions in response to the 2017 accusations and investigations against Darby but rather promoted her and kept their ?deficient policies in place to protect residents from sexual assault by its employees and agents.?

The lawsuit goes on to say that Lasting Change and LifeLine allowed Darby to take minor residents to areas of the campus that are not recorded or visible to third parties and on unsupervised outings off premises. The company allegedly did not require more than one staff member to go on the off-premise outings as a cost-saving measure, according to the lawsuit.

The suit also alleges all defendants engaged in a conspiracy to ?negligently operate the Pierceton Woods facility in disregard for the well-being of its residents, namely failing to protect them from sexual assault,? even after the situation was investigated by the Indiana Department of Child Services and Pierceton Police Department, who both allegedly determined the offenses have occurred, according to the suit. The suit further claims that Darby continued to have access to the building where residents lived during the investigation.

As far as the claims against Brian Perry, the lawsuit alleges he and Darby were in an intimate relationship since at least 2017 and that he used his position of authority at Pierceton Woods to ?threaten and intimidate residents to prevent them from making complaints or to withdraw them once made,? as well as using discipline or the threat of discipline on residents who made and persisted in their complaints against staff members. The suit alleges Brian was in conspiracy with LifeLine and Lasting Change and the other defendants in the case. That conspiracy claim is represented among all of them for allegedly disregarding and concealing reports of sexual assaults from the appropriate authorities.

McConnell writes that as a direct and proximate result of the situation, his client has suffered damages including bodily injury with a permanent psychological injury, pain and suffering, disability, mental anguish, inconvenience, loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life, expense of hospitalization, medical and nursing care and treatment, loss of income and loss of ability to lead and enjoy a normal life. Those losses are either permanent or continuing, and his client will suffer the losses in the future, McConnell wrote.

?To date, Pierceton Woods Academy has taken no meaningful action to remedy the policies that permitted these sexual offenses. Nor has Darby Ellis Perry been charged with crimes brought to Kosciusko County Prosecutor Dan Hampton?s attention in early 2020,? McConnell said. ?The victims of Lasting Change and LifeLine deserve justice, just as the citizens of Kosciusko County deserve to see charges filed against individuals who violate Indiana?s child seduction law.??

Pierceton Police Department Chief Tim Sammons told the Times-Union he is aware of the civil lawsuit and that his agency submitted a criminal case pertaining to this case to the Kosciusko County Prosecutor?s Office for review, however, he has not heard of a decision from the prosecutors about moving forward with criminal charges.

In a statement to the Times-Union, Hampton said of the matter: ?Just prior to the pandemic, information about Pierceton Woods was brought to local law enforcement?s attention, which began an investigation that remains ongoing. In every criminal investigation, law enforcement conducts a very thorough examination ? not relying solely on assertions, assumptions or allegations? but rather on factual evidence. Due to this ongoing investigation, I will not confirm or deny any allegations raised in any civil lawsuit.?

Attempts to reach LifeLine and Lasting Change were unsuccessful, and it is unknown if any of the defendants have attorneys representing them in this cause.

Offline Oscar

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Re: Pierceton Woods Academy testimonies
« Reply #2 on: April 30, 2023, 02:14:20 AM »
Some of the comments to the article:

Quote from: Tammy dobbs
I am in need of someone to check out this facility . My grandson was sent to this place and has had problems since. Inmate hiding under bed. Now threatened to be next victim in front of supervision. Now torn up his room and inmates that threatened . Want investigated someone to call check out tapes.

Quote from: MaLinda Pugh-Miller
I have nothing to say against Pierceton Woods Academy. This of course is a great Stress to me as one of my children is currently a residence of the academy. However I can say that the program has helped my son in a immense way. They helped me save my family

Offline Oscar

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Re: Pierceton Woods Academy testimonies
« Reply #3 on: April 30, 2023, 02:27:22 AM »
Feedback from employee

Quote

Unethical - Jun 25, 2021 - Youth Care Worker in Pierceton, IN

Pros: Working with the residents on treatment

Cons: Everything else. Unethical, Shady, ZERO treatment actually being done. The residents do not heal in the ways they should and usually relapse right after getting out.


Quote
Lacked integrity - Jul 20, 2022 - Youth Treatment Specialist

Pros: Got to know some great kids.

Cons: Got to know some pretty terrible kids. Management cared more about their image as a company than the boys


Offline Oscar

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Re: Pierceton Woods Academy testimonies
« Reply #4 on: April 30, 2023, 02:29:00 AM »
Found another article:

Quote
Former Pierceton Woods Employee Arrested For Child Seduction

PIERCETON ? A former Pierceton Woods Academy employee was recently arrested after entering into a relationship with a juvenile who resided on the campus.

Kaitlyn Anne McCullough, 24, 4256 S. SR 109, Albion, is charged with child seduction, a level 6 felony.

On July 8, 2020, the Indiana Department of Child Services received a report of child seduction that occurred at Pierceton Woods Academy. The incident allegedly involved McCullough, who formerly worked as a childcare worker at the facility, and a youth who resided at Pierceton Woods.

On July 9, 2020, the youth was interviewed by a DCS worker and Pierceton Police officer. According to court documents, that person described entering a relationship with McCullough while she was employed at Pierceton Woods. The youth showed Facebook messages between them and McCullough, indicating a relationship spanning from May to June 2020. The juvenile also described two events where the two kissed in a wooded area on Pierceton Woods? property.

The DCS worker and Pierceton Police officer then spoke with McCullough about the incidents. McCullough admitted to having Facebook conversations with the juvenile and described two incidents where she and the juvenile kissed in a wooded area.

Pierceton Woods Academy is currently facing a sexual assault civil suit in a matter unrelated to the McCullough incident.

In the suit, a father of a juvenile who was allegedly assaulted on the campus says their child was sexually assaulted by Darby Ellis Perry, a former Pierceton Woods employee.

McCullough was booked in the Kosciusko County Jail on Feb. 11, with a $5,250 surety and cash bond.


Offline Oscar

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Re: Pierceton Woods Academy testimonies
« Reply #5 on: April 30, 2023, 03:12:05 AM »
They want a loophole in the law so they can do with the residents as they want without being held accountable.


Quote
After sexual abuse claims, politically connected treatment center seeks immunity
TONY COOK , KRISTINE PHILLIPS Indianapolis Star

A faith-based residential treatment center accused of allowing staff to sexually abuse boys is pushing for legislation that would protect it and similar state contractors from most lawsuits filed by victims and their families.

The legislation would provide immunity to child caring institutions and group homes in connection with the performance of duties under a contract with the Indiana Department of Child Services. Those contractors include Lifeline Youth & Family Services/Lasting Change, a politically connected operator that provides homebased services and runs a residential treatment center in Northern Indiana.

The Fort Wayne nonprofit is a leading promoter of the legislation. It is DCS's largest contractor, raking in nearly $200 million from the state since 2017. Its fundraisers have featured former governor and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence.

Pierceton Woods Academy in Fort Wayne faces accusations

One of Lifeline's facilities is Pierceton Woods Academy, a residential treatment center about 30 miles west of Fort Wayne that provides care for sexually maladapted youth.

The academy has been accused of allowing employees to abuse teenage boys, then covering it up. A psychologist hired by the attorneys of one victim said in a report submitted as part of the 2020 lawsuit that at least a dozen staffers were known or suspected to have sexually abused boys at Pierceton Woods.

Curtis Smith, a spokesman for Lifeline, said the nonprofit denies allegations that it failed to protect minors from sexual abuse or that it was aware of and covered up sexual assault allegations.

"We love helping these boys heal and get better," Lifeline CEO Tim Smith told lawmakers during a hearing in March. "It is the only reason we do what we do."

But Travis McConnell, the attorney who filed the lawsuit alleging sexual abuse at Pierceton Woods, said Smith lied to lawmakers about his client's case in an effort to keep the immunity legislation alive.

?If there?s no accountability for their actions, then there?s no incentive to do the right thing," McConnell said. "By giving people immunity, you?re giving people a free pass to do whatever they please.?

The controversial proposal, House Bill 1282, appeared dead earlier this month after a Senate committee failed to advance it, but lawmakers appeared ready to add the liability protections to House Bill 1091 as of Tuesday. If that happens, the full House and Senate could vote on the measure this week.

CEO accused of misleading lawmakers

During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing last month, Tim Smith said the immunity legislation is needed because of a huge increase in insurance premiums. Without relief, he said, the company already has reduced the number of boys it serves and may not be able to continue providing important rehabilitation services.

Smith testified the annual insurance premium jumped from $30,000 for $3 million coverage to $500,000 for less coverage. He blamed ?one lawsuit in 55 years? even though it was settled for ?nuisance value,? a legal term for an amount less than it would cost to fight a lawsuit. Smith said he could not disclose the settlement amount because it was confidential.

McConnell, the Warsaw attorney who represented the family in that lawsuit, called out Smith on the nuisance settlement claim.

?That statement was not true,? McConnell said. ?So not only does Lasting Change want the taxpayer to cover their negligence, its CEO is willing to lie to the Legislature in order to try and make it happen.?

McConnell said Smith?s statement voided the confidentiality agreement, and he provided IndyStar a photocopy of a $72,000 settlement check from Lifeline?s insurance company.

Curtis Smith, the Lifeline spokesman, said Tim Smith "stands firmly" behind his opinion that the settlement was for "nuisance value," adding that McConnell "appears to misunderstand" the terms of the settlement.

Records detail troubled history at residential treatment center

Court documents and DCS records in the lawsuit detail a troubled facility rife with allegations of the abuse of young boys ? most already abuse victims seeking treatment. The case alleged a 16-year-old boy was groomed and sexually abused by a female worker.

An investigation by DCS found that allegations of child seduction against the employee were substantiated, meaning there?s enough evidence for a ?reasonable person? to believe the boy had been abused. It also revealed the same employee had been investigated two years earlier for similar allegations and allowed to keep her job despite refusing to cooperate with that earlier DCS investigation.

The lawsuit alleged the woman coerced the boy, and other residents, into participating in various sexual acts over several months in 2019. The employee formed a so-called ?circle of trust? with the boys and repeatedly told them they could be open with her, according to a complaint filed in Kosciusko County in October 2020.

The complaint also alleged that multiple supervisors were or should have been aware of the accusations against the employee, but they ?failed to implement policies to prevent sexual assault? and, instead, ?chose to minimize and cover up? such allegations.

Indiana DCS investigates sexual assault accusations

DCS began its investigation in 2019. In interviews with a family case manager, the boy and another resident said the woman had sexual contact with them during movie outings and walks near Pierceton Woods. The employee admitted forming the ?circle of trust? with the residents and taking them on walks and outings, but denied any sexual abuse, according to the case documents.

In 2017, police and DCS looked into similar allegations against the same employee, but neither the woman nor the alleged victim cooperated. Lifeline kept the employee on staff with direct access to male residents, documents say.

Curtis Smith, Lifeline's spokesman, said the nonprofit can't comment on DCS investigations, although he said the nonprofit cooperated with the agency. The employee in question no longer works for Lifeline, he said. He did not say if she was fired or if she resigned.

A psychologist?s report prepared for the lawsuit said Lifeline ?showed deliberate indifference? to the rampant sexual abuse of young boys, interfered with the ability of residents and staff to report to DCS, and ?emboldened sexual predators.?

Staffers who were accused of or committed sexual misconduct were sometimes reassigned or given the opportunity to resign, allowing them to move to other youth organizations, Kristine Chapleau, a licensed clinical psychologist in Indianapolis, wrote in her 21-page report. Chapleau's assessment was based on interviews, DCS reports, mental health records, company policies and court depositions.

?The work environment at Pierceton Woods was highly sexualized. Several female staff talked openly about sex, fought over who was having sex with the male staff, and even bragged about abusing the male youth,? Chapleau wrote, citing an employee who boasted about such abuse. ?Yet, these ?giant red banners? were repeatedly ignored.?

At least a dozen staffers were known or suspected to have sexually abused boys at Pierceton Woods, according to Chapleau?s report. One employee was allowed to resign after sexually abusing a boy under 15 and was never reported to DCS, according to the report. So was another employee who sexually abused a 15-year-old boy inside a supply closet. Another was allegedly impregnated by a resident she helped escape from the academy, the report said.

In 2020, another female employee was investigated by DCS and arrested for child seduction. She pled guilty to two misdemeanors in a deal with the prosecutor.

Curtis Smith said Chapleau was hired by the plaintiff's attorney, McConnell, to pursue money damages in the lawsuit and neither visited Lifeline facilities nor interviewed any employees. He added that Chapleau's report was based on "hand-picked" information and documents.

During the litigation, Lifeline's attorneys expected their own medical experts to "deeply scrutinize" the findings and prepared to "vigorously cross-examine" Chapleau before the plaintiff decided to settle, Curtis Smith said.

Chapleau told IndyStar her report was based on the sworn depositions of eight employees, Lifeline?s policies, and the substantiated DCS investigation.

"Within a month of receiving my report, Lifeline agreed to settle without asking for my deposition," she said. "It?s troubling that, even today, Lifeline would rather 'deeply scrutinize' those who uncover the abuse than their employees who commit the abuse."

'This takes the consequence away'

The lawsuit filed by McConnell was voluntarily dismissed by agreement of the parties in February 2022 after discovery, including multiple depositions that were taken. That dismissal was tied to a then-confidential financial settlement with the family.

The dispute was rekindled last month following a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on HB 1282, which would prohibit negligence claims such as the one McConnell brought against Pierceton Woods.

Under the legislation, immunity would apply to most liability claims, including wrongful death, negligence, malpractice, battery and infliction of emotional distress. There are exclusions for criminal offenses, gross negligence and willful or wanton misconduct, but those cases are rare and much more difficult to prove.

McConnell said he shared information about the settlement in his case after hearing Smith downplay the incident in testimony to the Senate committee. He said Smith's public statement voided the agreement, and he doesn't want to see lawmakers swayed by what he considers misinformation.

Brad Catlin, an attorney who has represented multiple clients in DCS-related lawsuits, said the impact of abuse in youth treatment settings can be particularly devastating for the children involved.

"If they are hurt in places where they are put for care, that?s a terrible thing," he said. "It probably also will seriously make the issues they are dealing with worse."

Lawmakers should ensure contractors are held accountable, he said.

"If some somebody doesn't have a consequence, they're more likely to engage in bad behavior," he said. "And this takes the consequence away."