A facility like Wordsworth Academy in Philadelphia, PA, is supposed to help teens overcome challenges to build a better life. Instead, both the news headlines and the children victimized at the facility allege terrible things were done to kids left in the care of Wordsworth Academy.
If you were among the children who suffered abuse at the hands of those who were supposed to be empowering and supporting you, there’s something you should know.
Under Pennsylvania law, you may have the right to pursue legal action over the abuse you suffered. A lawsuit could force Wordsworth Academy and others involved in the abuse to finally be held accountable for the harm you suffered. You and your family could receive financial compensation that can help you get the care and support you need to cope with everything you have been through.
Our experienced and compassionate child abuse lawsuit attorneys can walk you through the legal process. If you choose us to represent you, we’ll handle every aspect of your claim at no upfront cost. Just call (866) 778-5500 today to learn more or complete our online form for a free consultation.
Wordsworth Academy, located at 3905 Ford Road, was considered the only residential treatment facility for troubled youth in Philadelphia, PA—until the state of Pennsylvania revoked its license in October 2016.
At the time of the violent incident that ultimately forced the emergency closure of the institution, Wordsworth Academy reported that its Residential Treatment program served 90 children between the ages of 12 and 21.
Repeated violations of Department of Human Services requirements—even ones involving health and safety, staff training and improper restraints—turned out to be the least of the problems at Wordsworth Academy, according to Unsilenced Project, Inc. This nonprofit public benefit corporation and self-described grassroots campaign, which fights against institutionalized abuse in the “troubled teen industry,” maintains a comprehensive archive of DHS documents and news articles that tell a horrifying story of abuse at Wordsworth Academy, PA.
Most prominent in this story is the death of David Hess. On the night of October 16, 2016, Wordsworth Academy staff members searched the 17-year-old resident’s room, believing that Hess had stolen another child’s property. A male staff member reportedly punched Hess in the ribs and then put him in a headlock that left him “gasping for air,” as The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
“Get off me, I can’t breathe!” other children overheard Hess say during the confrontation, as the Inquirer article reported. He subsequently “died from lack of oxygen.” In February 2017, the Philadelphia Medical Examiner’s Office ruled the death a homicide, another Philadelphia Inquirer article reported.
Less than two weeks after Hess was killed, the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services ordered the emergency closure of the facility.
Yet Hess’s tragic fate was far from the only assault to occur on the grounds of Wordsworth Academy. The Philadelphia Inquirer called the death “yet another violent chapter in a hidden history of abuse” at the facility.
Children, including Hess, suffered physical abuse that included being hit and punched by the staff members who were supposed to be taking care of them.
Particularly disturbing are the dozens of reports of sexual assaults and abuse against children while they were in the care of Wordsworth Academy staff.
“In the last decade, at least 49 sex crimes have been reported” at the facility,” The Philadelphia Inquirer reported in April 2017, about six months after Hess was killed. Those crimes, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported, included 23 accounts of sexual abuse and 12 rapes.
Abuse often goes unreported—even more so in the cases of sexual abuse of minors and institutional abuse. These numbers convey only the known reports of abuse and assault. There could very well be more survivors who haven’t yet come forward but who continue to suffer from the abuse they endured at Wordsworth Academy.
We are here to help.
The kinds of abuse reported at this facility can affect you even years later. Survivors of abuse at Wordsworth Academy shouldn’t have to suffer in silence.
You deserve accountability from the facility that allowed this harm to come to you and the resources to make the best possible recovery, physically and emotionally, from the abuse you have been through. A Wordsworth Academy abuse lawsuit can accomplish this for you.
Any former Wordsworth Academy resident who suffered physical or sexual abuse—of any kind—while at the facility may have the grounds for a lawsuit. Parents and families of minors who were abused at Wordsworth Academy may be able to pursue a claim on behalf of their child.
Wordsworth Academy abuse survivors sometimes wonder if it’s too late to sue for institutionalized abuse. Changes to Pennsylvania law made in November 2019 have extended the deadlines to sue over child sexual abuse crimes in many cases, sometimes by decades.
An experienced sexual abuse lawsuit attorney can help you understand how current laws apply to your situation and what legal rights and options you have (at no cost).
The abuse you suffered should never have happened. What you have been through is inexcusable.
We know that nothing can undo the pain you have been through. What a Wordsworth Academy abuse lawsuit can do is give you a chance to get justice and the financial resources to make the best possible recovery from your injuries.
This may mean demanding answers from those who were to blame for the abuse you suffered—both the perpetrators of the abuse and the people who failed to protect you or to report abuse within the facility.
It also means seeking financial compensation. The money damages you recover in a Wordsworth Academy abuse lawsuit can help you afford care for any physical injuries that continue to trouble you. This money can also help you pay for treatment, like evidence-based therapy, to help you cope with the trauma of abuse and move forward.
It costs nothing upfront to hire a Wordsworth Academy abuse attorney to represent you in your lawsuit against the facility. Attorneys handle claims like yours on a no-win, no-fee basis, so there’s no risk in moving forward with a lawsuit.
To get your questions answered by experienced, compassionate legal professionals, call (215) 225-2040 or contact us online for a free, no-obligation consultation.