PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 5, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — More than one dozen survivors who were sexually assaulted as minors sued the Devereux Foundation and several of its affiliated corporations as they begin a journey to justice, attorneys for the group of 12 women and one man announced after the complaint was filed today in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. The lawyers, from Saltz Mongeluzzi & Bendesky, PC, and Helm Law Group, said the lawsuit (Jane Doe C.B. vs. Devereux Foundation, Inc., et al. No. 2010005141) is believed to be the largest single survivor-group complaint filed against the Pennsylvania-based provider of a wide range of services to society’s most vulnerable citizens.
Attorneys Robert J. Mongeluzzi, Andrew R. Duffy, Kristen Gibbons Feden, Daniel Ceisler (of SMB), and James D. Helm (Helm Law Group), said following the filing, which includes negligence, sexual assault, and child abuse claims – and does not name the plaintiffs to protect their privacy – that their abuse, severe and permanent injuries, are irrefutable and will be detailed at trial. The Pennsylvania-based firms jointly represent the plaintiffs, 12 of whom reside in Pennsylvania; the other is a Delaware resident.
“These courageous plaintiffs put their trust, faith and confidence in Devereux and its employees to care for them, to help them rehabilitate, and instead they were horrifically brutalized sexually, physically and emotionally. They are taking positive action to hold those who utterly failed to protect and care for them accountable and to prevent other vulnerable, innocent individuals from being victimized,” stated Robert J. Mongeluzzi, of SMB.
The ten-count complaint, seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, names as defendants the Philadelphia Main Line-based Devereux Foundation, Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health, and 17 other affiliated businesses, along with one individual defendant, Everol David Brackett. He is a former Devereux residential group home supervisor, imprisoned after his conviction in Chester County for sexually assaulting one of the plaintiffs.
Andrew R. Duffy, of SMB, said, “As asserted in the complaint, every one of these shocking, life-altering assaults would never have occurred if the defendants had made the safety of the children in their care their absolute highest priority. We intend to determine once and for all why this multi-state conglomerate with nearly $500 million in in annual revenue failed to properly monitor its employees to ensure that they did not – often repeatedly and without consequences – molest or sexually abuse minors. One incident is intolerable, but what we see over decades is a pattern of systemic abuse and it must finally end.”
Attorney Feden, who heads SMB’s sexual assault practice and was among the lead prosecutors who convicted Bill Cosby at his retrial in Montgomery County, said, “Ghastly crimes against children – one was eight-years-young – were committed on Devereux properties, by its employees, who in some instances injected their victims with sedatives before violating them. These children and their families, many from communities of color, were first betrayed and then abused. Meanwhile, Devereux pocketed its compensation from the referring agency or government despite knowing that they were not placing these children in caring and enriching environments.”
Attorney Helm said, “Our extensive pre-filing investigation concluded that The Inquirer’s August expose HOPE.HELP.HARM. on Devereux abuses was consistent with our fact-finding in portraying what amounted to a “predatory hunting ground” for pedophiles. Instead of admitting their failures and taking swift and meaningful corrective measures, the defendants vilified the newspaper that exposed their wrongdoing rather than focusing solely on the heinous crimes against children committed by their employees. We believe the only way to abolish the sexual assault – including rape – culture at Devereux is by having a jury hold Devereux accountable for these unspeakable violations.”
NOTE: Members of the legal team will be available to discuss the complaint filing. There will be no interviews with anyone else associated in any way with the plaintiffs.
Numerous resources are available to assist sexual assault survivors. These include the National Sexual Assault Hotline operated by RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network. To speak confidentially to a trained staff member from a local sexual assault service provider call 800.656.HOPE or visit https://hotline.rainn.org/online
SOURCE Saltz Mongeluzzi & Bendesky, PC