No child should ever feel unsafe in their place of residence. Yet dozens of children formerly placed in Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health facilities reported being subjected to appalling abuse in these treatment centers, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. The victims of these brutal physical and sexual assaults were some of the most vulnerable children, often in the facility due to a behavioral health issue, a past trauma, or a physical, mental, or developmental disorder. And the abuse went on for decades, according to the Inquirer.
Any current or former Devereux resident who suffered abuse while at the facility has legal rights, which may include a right to compensation. Abuse lawsuits against Devereux, filed by plaintiffs in numerous states, are gearing up to hold the institution accountable for abuse.
The total number of children harmed at Devereux treatment centers may never be clear. What is clear from the numerous allegations against the behavioral health centers is that the abuse reported encompasses both physical and sexual assaults.
The abuse and assaults that are alleged to have occurred at numerous Devereux facilities are inexcusable. Survivors of Devereux abuse have the right to hold the institution accountable for allowing these assaults to happen.
The types of physical assaults reported by residents of Devereux facilities include:
Physical abuse suffered at Devereux may be the basis for pursuing a lawsuit against the institution.
You may have the right to sue for any form of sexual abuse or assault committed against you while you were a resident at a Devereux facility, including (but not limited to):
The sexual abuse reported at Devereux is particularly horrific because, for many survivors, it has led to psychological and emotional harm that lasted even longer than the physical injuries from the assault.
If you were among the children who were sexually abused at a Devereux Behavioral Health Center, you should know, first, that you’re not to blame for the assault.
You should also know that there are trained professionals who work with sexual abuse survivors to help them cope with and process the trauma they have been through. Even if you have lived with the (physical or emotional) scars of abuse for years, getting the care and treatment you need can help you find peace and feel better and more in control of your life.
One of the reasons survivors of childhood sexual abuse don’t get the help they need is the cost of treatment—not to mention a lack of knowledge about how to find a provider they can trust. In a Devereux sex abuse lawsuit, your attorney will seek compensation to cover the costs of the care you need to get your life back and help you gain access to the treatment that can help you overcome this trauma.
Filing a Devereux abuse lawsuit is different from pressing criminal charges in two key ways.
A criminal conviction of the Devereux employee who harmed you can help strengthen your lawsuit. However, you can move forward with a claim even if the staff member who abused you was never charged.
Recent investigations and other developments have shed light on abuse allegations at Devereux treatment centers.
In its article that exposed the abuse happening at Devereux, the Inquirer identified dozens of allegations of abuse and assault dating back 25 years. Numerous employees of Devereux have been arrested and criminally charged in connection with assaults on the children in their care, according to ABC News.
The problem is that even when individual staff members are convicted and go to prison, the assaults and mistreatment don’t end. In what has been labeled a “pattern of systemic abuse” in a Patch report on the scandal, the abuse occurred in multiple Devereux treatment facilities across different states over the course of decades.
It’s time to hold Devereux, as an institution, accountable for the negligence that, according to the Inquirer, allowed the children in its facilities to be victimized by numerous abusers.
How was this decades-long pattern of egregious abuse allowed to continue for so long? The survivors suing Devereux are blaming “a long-standing pattern of ignoring abuse claims, failing to weed out abusive staff and abandoning corrective plans,” according to WHYY.
To that point, WHYY reported on changes Devereux was implementing in 2018 specifically for the purpose of preventing abuse in its facilities. However, by the time of the Inquirer article’s publication in August 2020, 11 more children would report abuse at the hands of four Devereux staff members, WHYY noted.
At individual Devereux facilities, The Philadelphia Inquirer noted, some supervisors are reported to have:
At least one former supervisor has been convicted of sexually assaulting Devereux residents, according to Patch.
A statement published on the official Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health website begins, “The recent incidents reported by The Philadelphia Inquirer are heartbreaking and unacceptable, and we must always ensure we’ve learned from the past and are constantly driving change in our organization and industry.”
Still, Devereux leadership has largely sought to frame these allegations of child abuse as a pervasive problem in residential facilities as a whole.
“This is not an aberration that happens at Devereux because of some kind of lack of control or structure,” The Philadelphia Inquirer quoted Devereux’s Senior Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer Leah Yaw as saying. “This is an industry-wide problem.”
Abuse is indeed reported at other residential centers for children, such as Glen Mills Schools. But that reality doesn’t mitigate the negligence of an institution that enabled abusers to assault vulnerable children.
Following the publication of the Inquirer article, the Philadelphia Department of Human Services and Community Behavioral Health launched an investigation. The city determined that Devereux staff “weren’t doing their jobs” and announced plans to remove the 53 children it had placed in Devereux facilities, another Inquirer article reported.
No matter what the higher-ups say, at Devereux, as at other facilities, child abuse is preventable.
You may have the grounds to join a lawsuit on a no-win, no-fee basis if you suffered any form of physical or sexual abuse at any of the following types of facilities:
Every instance of abuse is unique, and so is every potential lawsuit against Devereux. If you believe you might have a case, it’s important to work with an attorney who understands the intricacies of child sexual abuse lawsuits.
Call 215-225-2040 to discuss your case with an experienced, compassionate legal professional and find out if you qualify to join a free sexual abuse lawsuit investigation. If you choose to move forward with a claim, you’ll pay nothing unless your attorney successfully gets you compensation.
A survivor of childhood sexual abuse may come forward for many reasons. Some want to see those responsible for the abuse face justice and accountability. For others, there may be a sort of peace or closure in finally making their voice heard, especially if the victim felt pressured to keep the abuse secret for a long time.
Perhaps you’re considering sharing the story of your abuse for the practical reason of obtaining the compensation that will help you take back your life through therapy and treatment. Maybe you have realized that taking a stand now, as an adult, can help children who are still being abused find the courage to speak up and get to a place that’s safe from abuse.
Or maybe it’s a combination of any of these different reasons—or any other reason—that is making you consider taking action.
Whatever the case, the Devereux investigations by journalists and government agencies have created an environment where former residents abused by staff members finally feel safe to hold the institution accountable.
If you’re thinking about reporting the abuse you suffered as a Devereux patient, you should know that you can explore your options without any pressure or risk. Speaking to an attorney doesn’t cost anything or mean that you’re obligated to file a claim. If you do decide to move forward with a Devereux Foundation abuse lawsuit, you may have the option to do so under a pseudonym to protect your privacy.
Working with an attorney with experience handling sexual abuse claims will allow you to discuss the pros and cons of a lawsuit, as well as options that may make taking legal action feel less intimidating.
Different states have different laws to determine how long a person has to move forward with any kind of legal action. These laws, known as statutes of limitations, are legal deadlines that—if you miss them—could prevent you from suing Devereux for abuse. That’s one reason why survivors of abuse should speak to an attorney sooner rather than later if they wish to pursue a claim.
In recent years, cases of institutional abuse, sometimes covered up for decades, have become more widely publicized. These developments have prompted states to consider changes to their statutes of limitations.
In Pennsylvania, victims of childhood sexual abuse previously had until they turned 30 years old to file a lawsuit. Since November 2019, they now have until they turn 55, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported. For victims who were between the ages of 18 and 23 at the time of the abuse, the legislative changes extend the old two-year statute of limitations to the time the victim turns 30 years old.
Despite these legislative changes, for some of the earlier victims of abuse at Devereux facilities, it might be too late to file a lawsuit—unless additional legislative changes are made.
In early 2021, Pennsylvania lawmakers in both the House and the Senate introduced bills that would pave the way for an amendment to the state Constitution that would establish a two-year window during which victims could pursue claims otherwise barred under the old statute of limitations, PennLive reported. If this constitutional amendment was adopted, it would no longer be “too late” for countless victims of childhood sexual abuse to hold accountable the institutions that allowed abuse to occur.
Even if you believe it may be too late to file a Devereux lawsuit, you should still talk to an attorney about the specifics of your claim. Only a lawyer who is familiar with the laws governing child sexual abuse claims—in Pennsylvania and beyond—can thoroughly evaluate your claim and help you understand your options under the current laws and under pending legislative changes.
In a situation where abuse is alleged to have gone on for as long as it has at Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health, as reported in the Inquirer article, some survivors of sexual abuse are no longer children. In fact, some of the victims have now spent more of their lives trying to cope with the trauma of abuse at Devereux than not.
The oldest victims of Devereux Foundation abuse are now in their 30s and 40s. Some of them have suffered in silence for decades.
The suffering that results from abuse isn’t something that will somehow end when you turn 30, or 40, or 50. Trauma, including abuse, creates an impact that lasts a lifetime—especially if you don’t get the help you need to cope with what you have been through.
If you still feel the effects of the abuse you suffered at Devereux when you reach your 20s, 30s, or even 40s, don’t blame yourself. Anyone who is familiar with sexual abuse (and with trauma in general) knows that a trauma like this isn’t something you just “get over,” and that there’s no set amount of time after which you no longer feel its effects.
As long as the statute of limitations allows for you to pursue a claim, there’s no such thing as “too old” to join a Devereux Foundation lawsuit.
Abuse lawsuits filed against Devereux have sought to hold accountable individual employees (current or former), as well as different Devereux entities or facilities, according to WHYY.
Whether your claim names a specific individual or just a Devereux facility will depend on the facts of your case.
Sexual abuse lawsuits against institutions like Devereux fall under the category of personal injury law. Like other personal injury claims, they revolve around injuries—in this case, abuse and assault—that result from the defendant’s negligence. The lawsuit seeks money damages to compensate the victim for the harms and losses caused by this injury.
That said, sexual abuse matters are distinct from other types of personal injury actions. An attorney with experience handling other kinds of personal injury claims may not have the knowledge of sex abuse litigation needed to support you in a lawsuit against Devereux. For that reason, our firm is working with a network of attorneys who have a proven record of success representing survivors of child sexual abuse.
Absolutely not. The initial consultation for a Devereux abuse lawsuit, or for any other matter involving physical or sexual abuse, is 100% free.
During this free conversation, you will have the opportunity to:
You won’t be charged anything for the consultation or be required to move forward with a claim if you don’t want to. It’s in the best interests of every survivor of sexual abuse to at least speak with an attorney to understand their rights and options.
Lawyers handle Devereux abuse lawsuits on a contingency basis, also known as a no-win, no-fee basis. This means you can hire an attorney to represent you in your lawsuit at no upfront cost.
You will only ever pay your attorneys a portion of the compensation they get for you, and only once that money has been successfully obtained.
Claims like yours are handled with great care. Lawyers handling Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health lawsuits are highly experienced in child sexual abuse matters. They understand the unique challenges of this kind of claim, and they have the utmost compassion for survivors of the kind of horrifying mistreatment you suffered.
Your attorney is your advocate, there to support you throughout the legal process and help you make the decisions that are best for your wellbeing. You are in control of how your claim progresses—with the guidance of attorneys who can explain all of your legal options, of course.
Ultimately, whether you move forward with a Devereux abuse lawsuit is your decision. You should never feel pressured into taking any legal action that you’re not comfortable with.
What we can say, in our experience of practicing law for more than 25 years, is that many survivors of abuse and injuries find it worthwhile to file a lawsuit. They are able to get the support they deserve and to acquire the compensation to cover the costs of working toward emotional as well as physical recovery.
For some victims of childhood abuse, just knowing that there’s someone in their corner advocating for them and making sure their best interests are represented is valuable in itself.
If the thought of filing a Devereux abuse lawsuit has crossed your mind even briefly, you should at least speak with an attorney about your rights and options. The consultation costs nothing, so you have nothing to lose. You deserve to be able to make an informed decision about pursuing a claim, and talking to a lawyer (for free) will provide you with that information.