Suit Alleges Abuse At Randolph Facility In Early 1990s
New Directions Youth and Family Services, the not-for-profit parent company of the Randolph Children’s Home, Cattaraugus County and 10 unnamed defendants have been sued by a former resident of the Randolph Children’s Home for abuse alleged to have happened in 1989 and 1990.
The plaintiff has filed the suit using his initials because of the sensitive nature of the abuse and because he does not want to risk “further humiliation, trauma and psychological damage if his identity as a victim of child sexual abuse were to become publicly known.” The suit names Cattaraugus County as a defendant because the county’s Social Services Department oversees supervised foster care within the county and has custody and legal responsibility for children in the foster care system. The county contracts with New Directions Youth and Family Services.
The complaint, filed on behalf of the now-adult victim by attorney Jeff Herman of the Herman Law firm in New York City, states the county is also at fault because it didn’t properly oversee the actions of those working for New Directions.
“Defendant county through DSS owed a non-delegable duty to exercise reasonable care in the training of administrators, supervisors, case workers, social workers, counselors, and/or other employees or agents, in the prevention of sexual abuse; protection of the safety of children in its care, custody and/or control; and in the response to reports, complaints or allegations of sexual abuse or maltreatment,” Herman wrote in his complaint.
The lawsuit alleges the youth was 10 years old in 1989 and 1990 and suffering from serious mental health issues when he was hospitalized in a psychiatric facility after suicide attempts. Allegations were made against the youth’s mother for not filling the child’s psychiatric medication prescriptions quickly enough and not giving the child the medication as prescribed, leading to the youth being placed in foster care and eventually at the Randolph Children’s Home.
He was in the children’s home for three years and alleges being sexually assaulted by multiple children in the home, including by at least three roommates who were assigned to the plaintiff’s room at different times and by others living in the unit where the plaintiff was assigned in the facility. The youth said that he notified a staff member assigned to his unit of the alleged sexual abuse.
While the plaintiff was moved to a different room in the same unit, the other child was not moved and had access to the plaintiff with alleged inadequate supervision. The suit alleges the youth told the supervising staff member at least four times of the alleged abuse. The suit also alleges sexual abuse by an older female child in the unit who was between 15 and 16 years of age while the plaintiff was 10 or 11 years old.
“It was demonstrated again and again during plaintiff’s stay at Randolph Children’s Home that the problem of child-on-child sexual abuse in the unit was pervasive and systemic; yet the response to plaintiff’s reports of sexual abuse was consistently inadequate to protect plaintiff from the harm,” Herman wrote in his complaint.
The lawsuit alleges the Cattaraugus County Social Services Department didn’t adequately supervise contract agencies, didn’t ensure caseworkers were adequately trained and supervised, didn’t make sure caseworkers had manageable caseloads, didn’t ensure regular caseworker visits and unannounced visits in environments where foster children would feel comfortable and unthreatened in disclosing abuse or maltreatment.
“Because of the foregoing structural and systemic deficiencies in the foster care system, the Defendants at all relevant times knew or should have known that the children in their care were subject to a subrantial risk of maltreatment and abuse, including sexual abuse,” Herman wrote.