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CCHR Condemns Mental Health Industry Putting Children at Risk of Sexual Assault

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Children Psychiatric Sexual Assault
Up to 45% of mental health inpatients have experienced sexual violence, with one hospital saying its rate of patient sexual assault was within the "industry norm."

LOS ANGELES - PrZen -- Sexual assault in the inpatient psychiatric setting is a significant problem with serious, lasting consequences, according to research published in the journal General Hospital Psychiatry. The data indicates that between 5% to 45% of mental health inpatients experience sexual violence during an admission.[1] The Citizens Commission on Human Rights, a mental health industry watchdog, says there are increasing reports of unprotected patients being assaulted in behavioral and psychiatric hospitals. It points to the study's statement that states: "Incidents of sexual assault and engagement or facilitation of engagement of sexual activity with an incapacitated person on inpatient psychiatric units can result in both criminal and civil court involvement." However, CCHR says the increasing reports of children being subjected to sexual abuse in privately owned and state-run psychiatric residential centers show a nation where children are put at serious risk, with poor government oversight and protections.

Researchers believe the prevalence of sexual assault in the inpatient psychiatric system is underreported. The study largely relates to the sexual abuse between patients. However, it says earlier evidence indicated that 36% of the programs surveyed reported patient allegations of sexual abuse by a staff member during 1985 to 1991.

Another recent study published in BMC Psychology studied incidents of "healers that hurt," in several countries, including the Americas, which determined, that the sexual assault of "patients by healthcare providers within healthcare settings calls for urgent and extensive measures."[2]

A U.S. sexual assault attorney reports that a watchdog group had filed 6,000 complaints about potential negligence and sexual and physical assaults on patients in psychiatric facilities in one year alone. Underreporting, lack of data, and inadequate legal enforcement have all contributed to the conditions that allow sexual assault in psychiatric facilities to persist, the attorney reports. As further explained, "the staff member may use their position of authority to intimidate the patient into abusive conduct or situations." While in patient-to-patient cases, the abuse can occur due to inadequate supervision.[3]

However, progress has been made. In 2022, a California appeals court affirmed a trial jury's decision that a psychiatric hospital can be held responsible for sexual abuse committed by an employed caregiver should their actions be enabled by the facility's "reckless neglect."[4]

In October 2020, CCHR documented 32 cases of patient sexual abuse committed between 2004 and February 2020 in behavioral hospitals owned by one national for-profit behavioral hospital provider. These included several convictions of staff responsible.[5]
One of the most disturbing examples was the now-closed Rock River Academy & Residential Center in Illinois where adolescent girls with emotional problems were incarcerated. Reported in 2015, the Rockford Police Department had fielded more than 700 reports during a four-year period concerning victimization of girls, including sexual assault.[6]

In 2017, a for-profit Texas psychiatric hospital closed after a 13-year-old girl was allegedly sexually assaulted by another patient. At the time, the hospital's chief executive in a letter to the Dallas Morning News, asserted that "our rate of serious incidents [of sexual abuse] associated with the patient population treated at [the hospital] is within industry norm."[7]

It's an "industry norm" CCHR says is entirely unacceptable, with little action taken by health and judicial authorities to rectify it, as evidenced by the continuing incidents of reported abuse.

CCHR has updated a list from 2020 of children and teens sexually and physically abused in hospitals owned by this same company and others.

For example, Fox 13  News in Salt Lake City exposed how one facility in Utah had more child assault cases than any other similar facility in the state, with at least 61 reports of assault and 36 reports of sex assault since 2019.[8] An 11-year-old girl admitted to a for-profit psychiatric hospital in North Carolina alleged she was sexually assaulted. Local police records showed they had received 117 calls with reports of sexual assault at the hospital over the last three and a half years.[9] In 2023, the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services revoked the license of a youth psychiatric facility that had been plagued with allegations of child abuse and sexual assault.[10]

The abuses are not limited to privately owned facilities. In February 2024, Disability Rights New Jersey filed a lawsuit over alleged systematic violations of patient rights in four state-run psychiatric hospitals. "Individuals have been sexually, physically, and emotionally assaulted, sometimes resulting in permanent injuries or death," Disability Rights New Jersey said.[11]

A state-run run youth detention center in New Hampshire faces a lawsuit by children alleging sexual and physical abuse. Eleven former state workers face criminal charges, and dozens more are accused in the nearly 1,200 lawsuits former residents have filed alleging abuse spanning six decades.[12]

CCHR also points to a recent case where an associate psychologist treating teens at a New York youth detention center was arrested and charged with 65 counts of criminal sexual acts involving eight victims aged between 16 and 18 between 2020 and 2022.[13]

In response to the pervasive and predatory sexual abuse and assault within psychiatric facilities, CCHR condemns the mental health industry for endangering children and profiting from it. CCHR demands comprehensive oversight, stringent protections, and swift consequences for facilities found negligent. Legislative and regulatory reforms are needed to address systemic failures, hold facilities accountable, and prioritize patient safety over profit. Collaboration among policymakers, healthcare professionals, advocacy groups, and the public is essential to enact meaningful change and ensure that no child or patient suffers such horrors in psychiatric facilities.

About CCHR: CCHR was founded in 1969 by the Church of Scientology and the late Dr. Thomas Szasz, Professor of Psychiatry. It has helped achieve dozens of laws that make it a criminal offense for psychiatrists, psychologists and psychotherapists to have sexual relations with patients.

Sources:

[1] www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0163834323000270

[2] bmcpsychology.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s40359-024-01721-w

[3] www.survivorlawyer.com/blog/sexual-abuse-psychiatric-facilities

[4] www.fiercehealthcare.com/providers/psychiatric-hospitals-can-be-held-responsible-employees-sexual-abuse-patients-appeals

[5] www.cchrint.org/2020/10/30/child-abuse-allegations-in-the-behavioral-psychiatric-industry-universal-health-services-uhs/

[6] www.cchrint.org/2020/10/30/child-abuse-allegations-in-the-behavioral-psychiatric-industry-universal-health-services-uhs/; www.courthousenews.com/severe-abuse-alleged-at-illinois-home-for-girls/

[7] www.cchrint.org/2017/12/12/psych-hospital-chain-uhs-facing-more-allegations/; www.dallasnews.com/news/investigations/2017/10/26/timberlawn-history-sexual-assault-reports-13-year-olds-case-surfaced.

[8] www.fox13now.com/news/fox-13-investigates/this-psychiatric-hospital-has-more-child-assault-cases-than-any-other-in-state-of-utah

[9] www.northcarolinahealthnews.org/2022/11/30/parents-allege-11-year-old-sexually-assaulted-in-nc-psychiatric-hospital/

[10] pvtimes.com/uncategorized/state-closes-youth-psychiatric-facility-at-center-of-rj-investigation-121161/

[11] www.aol.com/lawsuit-alleges-harrowing-conditions-abuse-225458526.html

[12] manchesterinklink.com/more-than-200-more-join-lawsuit-alleging-abused-as-children-while-living-in-state-run-detention-center/; www.wbur.org/news/2024/04/09/sununu-youth-services-center-abuse-lawsuit-trial

[13] www.news10.com/news/crime/state-psychologist-indicted-for-multiple-sexual-assaults/

Contact
Amber Rauscher
***@cchr.org


Source: Citizens Commission on Human Rights

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