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Lawsuit: Utah youth center failed to supervise kids who victimized boy

Suit says the Wyoming teen was among three dozen boys in sexual misconduct unit when his peers acted out sexually on him

A West Jordan treatment center for teens is being sued over allegations it failed to properly supervise residents there, allowing several to victimize a 16-year-old boy from Wyoming five years ago.
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SALT LAKE CITY — A West Jordan treatment center for teens is being sued over allegations it failed to properly supervise residents there, allowing several to victimize a 16-year-old boy from Wyoming five years ago.

Two employees tasked with monitoring the youths knew they “were highly sexualized and needed constant supervision,” but left them largely alone one day at Copper Hills Youth Center, the suit alleges. Filed Aug. 16 in Salt Lake City’s 3rd District Court, it says the lack of oversight violated the center’s own policies.

Eric Schoonveld, an attorney for the center, declined to comment on specifics in a statement.

“That said, at Copper Hills Youth Center, we value every individual who comes through our doors and we continuously seek to learn from every patient situation to improve the quality and safety of the care we provide at our facility. We look forward to defending the excellent care that we give to each and every resident,” the statement read.

The lawsuit, filed by a guardian of the former teen resident, seeks more than $300,000 in damages to be determined at trial. It says he has a lower level of cognitive functioning and was among three dozen boys in a sexual misconduct unit when his peers acted out sexually on him.

The following month, the Division of Child and Family Services investigated whether the boys were not adequately supervised and acted out sexually as a result, and found the allegation was supported. The report named the teen as the victim, the suit says. He was later diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, among other conditions, according to the legal complaint.

About five years ago, on Aug. 17, 2014, employees sequestered several boys in an effort to discipline them for making sexual comments and “minor” inappropriate touching, the lawsuit says. The two employees stood outside the room and periodically checked on the boys, who acted out over a period of hours and left the room intermittently.

When a different employee arrived, the boys told him what had happened, his attorneys allege.