Psychiatric Hospital Sexual Abuse Lawyers
Fighting for Child & Adult Survivors Sexually Abused by Mental Health Providers
Years of documentation and court filings have shown that children and adults in psychiatric hospitals are routinely subject to sexual abuse. As the record shows, private and state-operated psychiatric hospitals across the nation have failed to prevent psychiatrists, counselors, other mental health care workers from using their positions of trust and authority to sexually abuse vulnerable patients.
Now, a growing number of children, women, and men are taking advantage of survivor-friendly legislation to step forward and seek justice against psychiatric hospitals and other entities that failed to uphold their duty of care.
Levy Konigsberg is a nationally ranked trial practice with a legacy of litigating sexual abuse lawsuits. We’ve helped survivors nationwide take on government entities, hospitals and medical systems, and other powerful institutions, and have recovered millions of dollars in compensation. If you have a potential case, we want to help.
Our psychiatric hospital sexual abuse lawyers are known for litigating complex civil claims. To discuss your case and how we can help, call (800) 315-3806 or contact us online. Consultations are FREE and confidential.
History of Sexual Abuse in Psychiatric Hospitals
Sexual abuse of patients at both child and adult psychiatric hospitals is a pervasive, nationwide problem, as evidenced by high-profile news reports, criminal charges against abusive medical staff, and civil lawsuits brought by survivors. Some of the states in which the most prominent examples of psychiatric hospital sexual abuse can be seen include:
- In May 2022, a California appeals court ruled that a psychiatric hospital can be held responsible for sexual abuse committed by an employed caregiver when their actions are enabled by a facility’s “reckless neglect.” The unanimous ruling upheld a $6.75 million award issued by a trial court jury for two elderly patients who were abused by Juan Valencia, an unlicensed behavioral health caregiver at the Aurora Vista del May psychiatric hospital in Ventura County. The jury found Aurora and its parent company Signature Healthcare Services, which failed to see that Valencia had previously been arrested on suspicion of a sex crime and failed to investigate his reputation among staff as a known abuser, acted with recklessness and was negligent in employing Valencia. The precedent-setting decision means that other psychiatric hospitals could be held liable for staff-on-patient sexual abuse.
- In August 2019, a Southern California jury awarded over $13 million in damages to three women who were sexually assaulted by Juan Valencia at Aurora Vista del Mar Hospital in Ventura. The jury sided with claims brought by the three women that the private psychiatric hospital and its parent company, Michigan-based Signature Healthcare Services, negligently hired Valencia despite his history of sex crimes and failed to adequately supervise him during his employment. The three plaintiffs were awarded $6.5 million, $3.75 million, and $3 million, respectively, in compensatory damages.
- In February 2018, a civil lawsuit was filed against the Washington DSHS by a former patient who claimed that she was sexually assaulted by a counselor employed at the Child Study and Treatment Center, a publicly operated child psychiatric hospital in Lakewood. The lawsuit accuses counselor Anthony Grant of sexually assaulting the 12-year-old patient at Lakewood between February 2000 and July 2021. Internal documents in the case revealed that at least one administrator tried to raise alarm about the “staggering, epidemic” sexual activity in the hospital but was ignored. Grant pleaded guilty to sex crime charges in 2005.
- In March 2013, the Washington Department of Social and Health Services agreed to pay $3 million to settle a lawsuit brought by a minor who was sexually assaulted by former counselor Anthony “Tony” Grant. The suit alleged that Grant repeatedly assaulted the victim over several months when she was 13 years old and a patient at the Lakewood Child Study and Treatment Center and that facility operators failed to adequately supervise Grant, who worked with patients at the facility and during outings as a chaperone.
- In October 2022, Macdoff Okah, a former employee at the Adventist Healthcare Behavioral Health facility in Rockville, MD, was sentenced to 40 years in prison by a Montgomery County judge. Okah pleaded guilty to multiple charges for sexually abusing two psychiatric patients at the hospital. Okah worked as a psychiatric technician at the facility from 2016 to 2019.
- In November 2010, the Chicago Tribune released findings from a journalistic investigation into widespread sexual assault and abuse in the state’s child psychiatric hospitals. According to the report, at least 18 cases of reported rape or sexual abuse were identified in Chicago-area psychiatric facilities housing youth, with cases involving victims as young as 7-years-old and multiple rapes of mentally disabled wards. The investigation highlighted a long-standing sexual abuse problem within DCFS facilities.
- In March 2023, the BridgeWay mental health hospital in North Little Rock was ordered by a Pulaski County jury to pay $2.5 million in damages to a patient who had been raped by one of the facility’s workers when they were 14 years old. According to the lawsuit, the abuser was a man whom BridgeWay administrators had known was on the state’s Child Maltreatment Central Register in connection to allegations that he molested a child at another hospital.
- In July 2021, a civil lawsuit was filed against Cumberland Hospital for Children and Adolescence over claims that staff engaged in widespread sexual abuse of minor patients. The lawsuit was the second to be filed against the Kent County hospital and its parent company Universal Health Services and brings the total number of claimants to 38. All plaintiffs allege that they were subjected to physical and sexual abuse dating back to 2008 by various staff, including former Medical Director Dr. Daniel Davidow, who is accused of inappropriately touching minor patients under the guise of taking their pulse, and Herschel “Mickey” Harden, a former psychotherapist charged with multiple sex crimes in February 2020. Cumberland is also the subject of a Virginia State Police investigation.
- In December 2011, a former patient at the Appalachian Behavioral Health Center in Athens filed a civil lawsuit over allegations that she was sexually abused by Ryan E. Blaine, a former charge nurse and supervisor at ABH who pleaded guilty in April 2011 to a fifth-degree felony charge of attempted patient abuse after engaging in inappropriate conduct with a patient. The lawsuit accuses staff at the state-run mental health hospital, as well as the Ohio Department of Mental Health, of failing to adequately supervise employees and protect patients.
Groundbreaking Laws Give Psychiatric Hospital Sex Abuse Survivors New Opportunities for Justice
In recent years, states across the country have worked to pass laws that make it easier for sexual abuse survivors to step forward and seek the compensation they deserve.
These groundbreaking laws are based on widely accepted research into the difficulties survivors face when it comes to processing their abuse, the fact that it can take years or decades before survivors abused as minors are able to understand the connection between their abuse and the damages they’ve suffered, and the various legal barriers modern state laws have created for survivors who wish to pursue justice in the civil legal system.
Today, laws passed in a growing number of states are giving unprecedented opportunities for sexual abuse survivors to seek justice. Many of these laws involve the extension of the statute of limitations, which gives survivors years or decades more time to file their claims, and some have eliminated the civil statute of limitations for child sex abuse lawsuits entirely. Several states have also included retroactive components in these laws that allow survivors with previously time-barred claims to step forward.
Some examples include:
- New York City. Under NYC’s Gender-Motivated Violence Protection Law, victims of sexual abuse that occurred in New York City can file lawsuits for financial compensation up until March 1, 2025 even if the abuse occurred decades ago.
- New Jersey. Under recently revised New Jersey laws, survivors of child sexual abuse have until the age of 55 to file claims against abusers and responsible institutions.
- Arkansas. Under Arkansas’ recently passed Justice for Vulnerable Victims of Sexual Abuse Act, survivors who were sexually abused as minors can file civil suits against abusers and institutions until age 55 or within three years from the date of discovery. The Act also created a temporary two-year revival window that gives survivors abused at any time in the past the right to file a civil lawsuit. This window opened on February 1, 2022, and closes on January 31, 2024.
- Maryland. Maryland’s Child Victims Act of 2023, which went into effect on October 1, 2023, eliminated the statute of limitations for civil lawsuits based on child sexual abuse and created an unlimited lookback period that allows child sex abuse survivors to file lawsuits over abuse that occurred at any time in the past.
- Pennsylvania. In Pennsylvania, lawmakers are currently reviewing pending legislation that, if passed as expected, would extend the civil statute of limitations for child sexual abuse lawsuits to age 55 and create a temporary two-year window for child sex abuse survivors to file claims over abuse that occurred at any time in the past.
- Massachusetts. Following amendments made in 2015, Massachusetts law (Chapter 260 § 4C) allows survivors of child sexual abuse to file civil lawsuits within 35 years of the final act of abuse or within 7 years of discovering that they suffered damages because of their abuse, whichever is later. As in other states, the statute of limitations can be tolled under minor victims reach 18.
- Virginia. Under Virginia law (§ 8.01-243), survivors of childhood sexual abuse have 20 years from the date they turn 18 to file civil lawsuits. This includes claims against mental health care providers and psychiatric hospitals that failed to prevent abuse of patients.
- Illinois. Illinois law allows survivors of childhood sexual abuse to file lawsuits within 20 years from the date they turn 18 or 20 years from the date that they “discover” the connection between their abuse and the resulting damages.
For survivors who were sexually abused at psychiatric hospitals and other mental health institutions, these and other similar laws provide an unprecedented opportunity to seek justice and hold facility operators accountable for their failures.
However, it can be difficult for a survivor to correctly evaluate the statute of limitations that applies to their case, or whether they have grounds to bring claims under new legislation.
At Levy Konigsberg, our firm has extensive experience bringing claims under newly expanded statutes of limitations and lookback windows and is actively reviewing and preparing claims from survivors in states where survivor-friendly legislation is currently pending. We can evaluate the statute of limitations in your case during a confidential consultation.
Do I Have a Case?
You may have grounds to file a civil legal action if:
- You or your minor child were sexually abused by a counselor, caregiver, psychiatrist, psychologist, or other mental health care worker.
- The abuse occurred at any private, state-run, or government funded psychiatric hospital or mental health program in the country.
Levy Konigsberg represents survivors in civil lawsuits that aim to hold psychiatric hospitals and other mental health institutions accountable for their failures to stop abusive staff members and protect students. This may include failures to adequately perform background checks on caregivers, failures to adequately supervise staff, and failures to properly respond to complaints and reports of abuse.
As civil claims, these cases focus on holding institutions liable for damages, and have nothing to do with the criminal guilt of abusers. This means that you may still have a claim even if:
- Your abuser is no longer alive.
- Your abuser was never charged or convicted of a crime.
Call For a FREE Consultation: (800) 315-3806
Levy Konigsberg has recovered over $3 billion in compensation for clients, including millions in compensation for survivors of sexual abuse. We’re passionate about helping survivors in the fight for justice, and we have the resources and firepower survivors need to fight back against powerful institutions.
If you have questions about pursuing a lawsuit over sexual abuse that occurred in any type of mental health program or facility, our psychiatric hospital sexual abuse lawyers want to help. We serve survivors nationwide and charge no fee unless we win.
Call (800) 315-3806 or contact us online for a FREE and confidential consultation.
Find out whether you have a case by speaking to one of our experienced lawyers via our 24/7 toll-free hotline or by submitting an email inquiry. Our attorneys will be quick to respond to you and happy to answer all of your questions.
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