A mother is suing an Alabama youth mental health facility after her 15-year-old son hanged himself while residing there.
Connor Bennet, who took his life in April, was sent to Brighter Path Tuskegee (formerly called Sequel) after the Alabama Department of Human Resources (DHR) took custody of him one year ago due to behavioral issues. He was placed in the facility one month after DHR took custody.
Brighter Path operates several psychiatric residential treatment facilities for youth in Alabama, which are licensed and certified by DHR and the Alabama Department of Youth Services.
Family Court records are sealed in Alabama, so the process of DHR taking custody of Bennet is unclear.
The lawsuit claims Bennet was "physically, sexually, verbally and emotionally abused by staff and other residents."
It also claims that Bennet attempted to escape on multiple occasions.
"Connor and some of the other residents made numerous reports of the sexual abuse he was enduring to facility staff and their supervisors," the suit reads. "Despite these cries for help, staff ignored the reports and chose to do absolutely nothing to prevent the abuse, so the assaults on Connor continued. Connor was desperate and felt he had lost all hope."
After hanging himself on April 5, Bennet was airlifted to a hospital where he was declared brain dead. Six days later, Bennet died.
Connor Bennet's mother, Ashley Crittenden, is suing Brighter Path and its parent company for wrongful death.
A GoFundMe has also been started for Ashley in the wake of her son's death.
This is not the only active case against Brighter Path, and there are several suits against various facilities across the state.
Many of the suits also name Brighter Path's parent company, Sequel Youth & Family Services, LLC, and many of its similarly named LLCs and partner companies. Sequel is a privately owned for-profit corporation incorporated in the state of Delaware, with its principal place of business in Huntsville.
The Owens Cross Roads location of Brighter Path is dealing with a lawsuit in which a minor, described only as J.K, claims she was punched and suffered a broken right jaw with severe bruising to her face and ribs, which resulted in her jaw being wired shut for two months. The assault allegedly took place after the unnamed minor reached a breaking point with maltreatment from staff, finally calling 911 and the Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program (ADAP).
"During her time at the facility, J. K. suffered significant and continuous physical, verbal and/or emotional abuse and/or neglect as separate acts on separate occasions, defendants employed aggressive and abusive policies at the facility that ignored the health and safety of the children, including J. K," the complaint reads.
"J. K. was assaulted, wrongfully restrained, abused, neglected or negligently or wantonly injured by the facility staff at separate times, at separate locations, and under separate circumstances. Numerous staff was informed of and/or had knowledge that J.K. was being assaulted, wrongfully restrained, abused, neglected or negligently or wantonly injured on separate occasions at separate locations by separate individuals but chose to do absolutely nothing to prevent the abuse and/or neglect nor report it pursuant to their legal obligations."
The complaint is filled with accusations of various forms of physical violence against residents by the staff.
According to the lawsuit, during a restraint, a male staff told a girl, "I don't give a [f**k], tell your social worker. What's she gonna do?"
Girls who attempted suicide in the facility also reported they were told by one or more staff that they should try again.
One complaint is from a nearby resident of the Tuskegee location. The resident filed a suit against Brighter Path, claiming her property "was and is overrun by escapees from the facility."
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