A lawsuit was filed Thursday in Macon County Circuit Court against Brighter Path Tuskegee, previously known as Sequel Tuskegee, its executive director and other individuals, bringing allegations of continued physical abuse and neglect of a 15-year-old boy at the youth residential facility.  

Birmingham attorney Tommy James is one of several lawyers representing the plaintiffs in the case. 

"Each case we file is a stark reminder that this is not an isolated problem," James said. "It is a systemic failure that must be addressed. How many more children must suffer before we see real change? Our children's lives are at stake." 

The lawsuit alleges he endured physical, verbal and emotional abuse by both staff and residents. It also claims the child lived in constant fear for his safety and was exposed to unsanitary conditions, including suffering from bedbug bites. 

The boy's guardian ad litem — an attorney appointed to protect the child's best interests — visited the boy at the facility multiple times and expressed deep concern for his safety. During those visits, she found the child was not required to maintain routine hygiene or attend classes, and he was beaten regularly by other residents while staff refused to intervene. Additionally, he had numerous bedbug bites. These concerns led the ad litem attorney to file for an emergency hearing to have him removed from the facility.

"No child should endure what our client experienced in this facility," James said. "He and other residents were treated worse than animals. It is sickening."

He continued, "We hope this lawsuit will bring much-needed attention to the rampant abuse in youth residential facilities and will lead to positive change. It is critical that we protect our most vulnerable, and the conditions and treatment at this facility are shocking. No child deserves to be treated this way."

This is not the only active case against Brighter Path, and several suits are pending against various facilities across the state.

In September 2022, the mother of 15-year-old Connor Bennet sued Brighter Path Tuskegee after Connor hanged himself while residing at the facility in April 2022. Bennet claimed to have suffered continued sexual and physical abuse before his suicide.

SEE ALSO: Mother suing Tuskegee youth facility after son's suicide: 'He didn't deserve this.'

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 occurred after the unnamed minor reached a breaking point with maltreatment from staff, finally calling 911 and the Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program.

"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 read.

"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."

To connect with the author of this story or to comment, email craig.monger@1819news.com.

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