Lawsuit: Boy, 12, sexually assaulted at DeKalb hospital

Empty hospital bed

Credit: Dana Neely

Credit: Dana Neely

Empty hospital bed

A lawsuit alleges employee negligence after a 12-year-old patient at a DeKalb County psychiatric and behavioral health hospital for children was sexually assaulted by another boy.

The suit, filed by the preteen’s mother, also details an alleged pattern of lax supervision at Laurel Heights Hospital, located on Briarcliff Road near Atlanta.

Mike Hostetter, an attorney who works for Laurel Heights’ parent company, UHS, said Monday the hospital is committed to patients. “At this stage, there’s no evidence we can see (of a failure) by the staff to properly monitor the patients,” he added.

The suit, filed last week in DeKalb state court, alleges the victim was assaulted by a 14-year-old boy last July 12 at 9:20 p.m.

Had supervision been better, the assault wouldn’t have happened, the mother contends. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution isn’t naming the mother who filed the suit because it could reveal the identity of her child.

The suit says a security camera taped the assault, but “no one at Laurel Heights Hospital observed the assault on available monitors or bothered to check video surveillance recordings until several days following the sexual assault.”

Three days after the alleged assault, a Laurel Heights worker took the 12-year-old to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

Melvin Hewitt, the mother’s attorney, also claims in the complaint that there have been 11 other incidents in the last five years at the hospital. Those include incidents of alleged child molestation, abuse and patient escapes.

The suit asks for a jury to determine damages.

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