Alabama’s father files lawsuit against Sequel for employees abusing his son.
A parent-filed lawsuit against Sequel Courtland, a youth facility in northern Alabama, alleges that staff and their peers molested and neglected a child placed there for mental health treatment by the Alabama Department of Personnel (DHR). The parent, identified only as Hunter C., said his child came to Courtland in 2018 at the age of fourteen and suffered horrific abuse for the duration of his stay.
“For the next ten months, Sequel Courtland would be a house of horror for Hunter,” said the lawsuit filed in Lawrence County’s Circuit Court, calling the center a “frightening and dangerous place”. The file also states: “Sequel was paid approximately $ 330 per day by the state of Alabama through DHR to treat Hunter and other children housed there.” The defendants are Sequel TSI of Courtland, the parent company Sequel TSI of Alabama, the executive director of Sequel and other unnamed employees.
Sequel operates in twenty states. Alabama DHR reports say that approximately 500 to 600 children have been admitted to psychiatric inpatient treatment facilities each year for the past five years. The lawsuit came following an investigation by the Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program that found Sequel’s Courtland location was fraught with problems including: unsafe living conditions and abuse of its residents’ staff.
Photo by Nathan-McDine on Unsplash
Birmingham attorney Tommy James, who represents Hunter, said: “There is a culture of violence and abuse that is prevalent in all sequel establishments across the country. It is disgusting when our most vulnerable children are placed in these facilities and then treated like animals. “
Marianne Birmingham, Sequel Director of Compliance, replied, “We strive every day to provide the best possible care for the children in these facilities.” She added, “Employees are encouraged to report any concerns about misconduct on a company hotline to ensure that no child is abused in a sequel facility. “
The lawsuit states: “Hunter left the Courtland facility in February 2019 after three physical attacks by staff and residents within 10 days and one failed suicide attempt.”
Michigan had previously terminated its contract with Sequel after 16-year-old Cornelius Fredericks died in May this year after being held by seven employees for about 12 minutes for tossing a sandwich. This comes from a report by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. The staff responsible there have been charged with criminal charges. Ohio recently revoked its license to a sequel facility, and California, Maryland, Oregon, and Washington all stopped taking children into its care.
“The kids kept telling us they didn’t feel safe,” said Nancy Anderson, associate director of the Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program (ADAP). ADAP, along with the Southern Poverty Law Center and Children’s Rights, has asked heads of state to indefinitely revoke Sequel’s license, suspend all Medicaid payments to the company, and find new jobs for its children.
State Personnel Department spokesman Daniel Sparkman said the agency “took action following the ADAP report, visited facilities without notice and has taken corrective action. Most, if not all, of the deficiencies had been addressed and / or corrected by the time of these visits. Sequel’s corrective actions consisted of company-wide staff training and renovations / improvements to the living areas and physical properties. Only Sequel Montgomery needed a corrective action plan and has since addressed all of these areas. “
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