A 15-year-old resident at an Alabama youth facility claims abuse suffered at the hands of those who were supposed to be caring for him led him to attempt suicide.
The boy’s father filed a lawsuit in Macon County against Sequel TSI of Alabama, and on Thursday amended the complaint to add the facility director and other employees as defendants.
“During his time in the facility, the child suffered numerous injuries, including bite marks, black eyes, bloody noses and bruises,’’ according to the family’s attorney, Tommy James.
“Feeling hopeless and alone, the child attempted suicide by ingesting 50 Tylenol pills. The staff refused to take him to the hospital until the next day.”
The suit was filed by James of Tommy James Law, Jeremy Knowles of Morris Haynes Attorneys at Law and Walter McGown of Gray, Langford, Sapp, McGowan, Gray, Gray and Nathanson.
Named among the defendants are Sequel TSI of Alabama, Sequel TSI of Tuskegee, Sequel Youth & Family Services, Brighter Path Alabama, Brighter Path Tuskegee, SYFS Saleco LLC, Vivant Behavioral Holdings LLC as well as some administrators.
Efforts to reach TSI weren’t immediately successful.
The attorneys have filed previous lawsuits against other youth treatment facilities that they say are part of a “troubled teen industry,” a network of for-profit youth residential facilities where widespread abuse and neglect has been revealed.
Among the previous lawsuits was one against the same facility is a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the family of Connor Bennett.
Connor died by suicide in 2022 after he claimed he was repeatedly sexually, emotionally and physically abused at the facility and his pleas for help ignored.
Another lawsuit against the psychiatric facility on behalf of yet another 15-year-old boy claimed it was a “house of horrors” for Tevin Pike who alleges he was “choked, beaten, punched, slapped and slammed to the ground’’ by employees and other residents during his brief time there.
In the current lawsuit, the young teen, identified only as G.P., was placed in the facility on Nov. 2, 2021 and stayed there for seven weeks.
Sequel Tuskegee is a medium risk secure facility that has 66 beds. Of those, 50 are licensed by the Department of Youth Services and 16 are licensed by the Alabama Department of Human Resources.
The complaint alleges G.P. endured sexual, physical and verbal abuse from staff and other residents.
Among the allegations:
• Within four days of entering the Sequel facility, he was attacked and was a victim of attempted sexual assault. He was also beaten and threatened daily by residents.
• He reported the attempted sexual assault and other abuse and was retaliated against.
• Unrelenting taunts and abuse from other residents left the child in constant fear and anxiety.
• Defendants failed to properly supervise, protect, and monitor the child, leading to multiple instances of physical, verbal and emotional abuse and neglect.
• Other residents poured urine on the child while he was sleeping because staff was never present.
• During his time in the facility, the child suffered numerous injuries, including bite marks, black eyes, bloody noses and bruises.
“The Tuskegee facility is just one part of the ‘exploited teen industry,’ a multibillion-dollar network of for-profit youth residential facilities where widespread abuse and neglect have been uncovered,’’ James said.
“The shocking abuses, neglect and even deaths that occur within these unregulated facilities directly stem from prioritizing profits over the safety and well-being of children.”
According to James, the U.S. Senate recently launched an investigation into the largest companies operating these facilities across the country, including Vivant Behavioral Healthcare, the parent company that operates the Tuskegee facility.
“It’s high time that the dark underbelly of this industry is exposed and those responsible are held accountable,” he said.
“It is heartbreaking to think that children who are already in difficult situations can end up in places like this, where they are subjected to unspeakable abuse and neglect,’’ James said.
“Our client, a 15-year-old child, was brutalized at this facility, and it is clear that the abuse was condoned and enabled by those in charge. This lawsuit is an attempt to bring some measure of justice for our client and to shine a light on the broader problem of systemic abuse in youth residential facilities.”
The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages.
Anyone with information is asked to contact James at email@example.com or 205-259-1725.
If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, reach out to the 24–hour National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255; contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741; or chat with someone online at suicidepreventionlifeline.org. The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is available 24 hours.