December, 16 2017
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North Carolina Resident Suing Whisper Ridge
A former resident at a Charlottesville center for troubled teens is suing the facility’s parent company for $10.35 million, claiming he was physically and sexually abused there.
The plaintiff, now 18, was a patient at Whisper Ridge Behavioral Health System on Arlington Boulevard between 2003 and 2005.
Whisper Ridges Lawsuit
According to the lawsuit, the young man claims a male Whisper Ridge employee assaulted him, slamming him to the floor and breaking his ankle.
The suit also alleges that a female employee repeatedly forced the teenager to perform oral sex on her.
An attorney for Tennessee-based Psychiatric Solutions Inc., which owns and operates Whisper Ridge, did not immediately return a phone message left Tuesday afternoon.
The young man also could not be immediately reached. The Daily Progress does not identify those who report sexual assaults.
Multiple Alleged Instances of Abuse
The lawsuit, filed Friday in Norfolk Circuit Court, also alleges that he was abused at other facilities owned by Psychiatric Solutions.
Paul D. Merullo, a Virginia Beach-based lawyer representing the man, said the youth now lives with a parent in Georgia and that he recently turned 18.
“We made a decision to wait until after his 18th birthday to file the suit,” Merullo said.
Whisper Ridges Other Woes
The young man and the employees named in the suit were not involved in criminal cases against five former Whisper Ridge employees that resulted from a six-month investigation into allegations of abuse there.
In August 2006, a grand jury indicted five former employees at Whisper Ridge.
However, Merullo said the prosecutor told him authorities had looked into his client’s case for possible criminal charges, but that they were unable to go forward because the alleged perpetrator did not confess and there were no corroborating witnesses.
“Also, [the young man] had a confusing parental custody situation at the time which made it hard for them to deal with him,” Merullo said.
The prosecutor handling the cases could not be reached Tuesday.
Bianca Johnson, the former director of operations at the facility, pleaded guilty this summer to a charge of attempted carnal knowledge of a 15-year-old patient. That charged stemmed from a sexually graphic letter authorities said she wrote the boy.
Johnson was sentenced to one year of probation and ordered to undergo a mental-health evaluation.
A former Whisper Ridge administrator charged with failing to report suspicions of child abuse in connection with Johnson’s case was acquitted in June.
Former mental health specialist Michael Prosise was charged with abuse, and has not yet been to trial.
Charges against former mental health specialist Bryan Antwann Vaughan were dropped last month after an alleged victim could not be located to testify. A previous trial resulted in a deadlocked jury.
Authorities said at the time that the charges against Vaughan could be revived in the future; he has maintained his innocence.
A fifth former employee is accused of contributing to child delinquency, but has not been arrested because she lives out of state.
The lawsuit against Psychiatric Solutions Inc. will not go forward until the company files a formal response in Norfolk Circuit Court.
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