Massive lawsuit details abuse at Devereux Health facilities after teen dies

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After two employees at a behavioral health facility in Red Hook were charged in relation to a teenager’s death, 13 Investigates had a chance to look deeper into the Devereux Behavioral Health Facility.

Our team discovered this is not the first time the Devereux Foundation, a giant non-profit, has made headlines.

According to their website, Devereux programs treat children and adults with special needs across 13 states, including the facility in Red Hook, New York.

In the last year or so, Devereaux has made news nationally for all the wrong reasons. A lawsuit filed in June 2021 in federal court in Philadelphia lays out disturbing allegations of widespread sexual and physical abuse at Devereux facilities across multiple states: including New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Florida, and Texas.

The 75-page class action lawsuit details allegations from more than a dozen people who received treatment at Devereux, many of whom had histories of abuse.

Some are named, but most are referred to as John Doe or Jane Doe because they are minors.

According to the lawsuit, the abuse spanned decades and most of the children who were abused at Devereux facilities found it almost impossible to get help or stop the abuse because Devereux reportedly limited the contact many had with the outside world. Nor was there any precise mechanism for victims to report abuse because some of those who did were either discounted or retaliated against.

The lawsuit goes on to say that:

“This pervasive culture of abuse allowed perpetrators access and opportunity to abuse highly vulnerable children and young adults, and gave them the impunity to act without the risk of detection or punishment.”

13 Investigates just received this class action suit. We are still sifting through the details, some of which are incredibly disturbing, including sexual assault and rape.

An attorney representing the plaintiffs gave issued a statement to 13 Investigates.

“Our lawsuits, which the court has allowed to move forward, allege that Devereux failed to enact safety measures and other policies to protect children in its care. We allege that this puts these individuals at a heightened risk of harm and abuse. Our clients have been empowered to speak about their mistreatment as vulnerable children entrusted to Devereux’s care, and we look forward to making sure their voices will finally be heard,” said Joe Sauder of Sauder Schelkopf