Sauder Schelkopf is investigating allegations of abuse in Sequel Youth & Family Services residential treatment centers. According to their website, “The Sequel Network consists of an extensive spectrum of programs serving a diverse client population struggling with challenging behavioral, addiction, psychiatric, emotional, or conduct disorders, as well as autism and other comorbidities.” Their services reach clients across the United States. NBC News reports that “Sequel cares for more than 9,000 clients across the U.S., including foster children, children whose parents are unable to handle their behavior and children in the state’s juvenile justice system.” There have been several reports of abuse allegations in their facilities. For example, in their Kansas location, it was reported that “In the four years before it closed…had been cited 38 times by Kansas officials for problems including excessive force by staff, poor supervision, under-qualified medical personnel, neglect and bullying by residents, according to state licensing records.” Furthermore, APM reports allegations that “inexperienced, low-paid staff charged with caring for some of the most vulnerable and difficult-to-treat children in the country…resulted in dozens of cases of abuse and neglect, including physical violence, sexual assault, filthy conditions, and improper restraints that led to numerous injuries and one death.” It was further reported that “Since the beginning of 2019, Sequel has shut down eight of its 36 residential treatment centers. Six closures happened under pressure from, or amid investigations by, state or local governments.”
“…state regulators in Wyoming concluded that Sequel’s operation there accepted children it was ill-equipped to care for and used restraints as a form of punishment. And in Florida and Michigan, investigators discovered staffers sent sexually explicit messages to a resident in one case and had sexual contact with a youth in another. In New Jersey, staff were found sleeping on the job. In Kansas, the Department for Children and Families cited a Sequel facility for frequent bullying among residents. And in Iowa, the company’s flagship Clarinda Academy had its license penalized following ‘founded child abuse,’ according to state records.”
Sequel declined to make any of its leaders available for interviews. In response to a list of questions laying out the findings of the APM Reports investigation, the company issued a lengthy written statement.
“At Sequel Youth & Family Services, we have dedicated our careers to helping this nation’s most vulnerable youth. Their cases are incredibly complex — marked by significant trauma, broken families, mental illness, substance abuse, and systemic failures across our foster care and juvenile justice systems,” the statement read in part. “We are proud to say that in thousands of cases across the country, we have provided the care and support needed to help our students live productive and fulfilling lives.
“We know how many lives are at stake here and that without organizations like ours, vulnerable youth with the potential to live vibrant lives will continue to fall through the cracks and not receive the support they need to make that life a reality. … That’s why we can — and must — do better.”
In its statement, the company said it is moving “toward a restraint-free model of care on an ambitious timeline.” But it also acknowledged that “our successes do not excuse our failures.”
These are allegations that have not yet been proven in court.
Sauder Schelkopf has a nationally recognized litigation practice. Our former prosecutors have extensive experience representing victims of all ages. The Legal Intelligencer named Sauder Schelkopf partners to its 2020 Pennsylvania Trailblazers. The honor recognizes 31 lawyers who “have taken extra measures to contribute to positive outcomes . . . and who are truly agents of change.” The Legal highlights our partner’s innovative work on advocacy as class counsel in large institutional sex abuse cover-ups, women’s, and children’s rights.
- We currently represent hundreds of individuals whose rights were violated while they were detained in a juvenile detention facility.
- In Allison, et al. v. The GEO Group, Mr. Sauder served as co-lead counsel and achieved a $2.9 million settlement on behalf of pretrial detainees whose civil rights were violated at the Delaware County prison.
- In Kurian v. County of Lancaster, Mr. Sauder served as co-lead counsel and achieved a $2.5 million settlement in this civil rights class action lawsuit on behalf of pretrial detainees.
- Sauder Schelkopf, and co-counsel, recently reached a $215 million settlement on behalf of female patients of Dr. George Tyndall, a gynecologist at the University of Southern California accused of sexual misconduct since the 1990s.
- We have represented survivors of clergy sexual abuse in dioceses throughout the country.
- We have a class action lawsuit pending on behalf of males who were victims of sexual misconduct by Dr. Richard Strauss, the Ohio State team doctor, while they were students and student-athletes at Ohio State University.
- We have been court-appointed as Interim Co-Class Counsel to represent former students of the University of Michigan who were victims of sexual misconduct by Dr. Robert E. Anderson, former director of University Health Service, and a former athletic team physician, who worked at the University of Michigan from 1968 until his retirement in 2003.
We Want to Hear from You
If you are a survivor of physical, emotional and/or sexual abuse, you can confidentially contact the lawyers at Sauder Schelkopf by filling out the form on this page or calling 888.711.9975