South Carolina Group Homes Face Abuse Allegations

A number of group homes in South Carolina have received millions in taxpayer funding the last few decades, despite dozens of allegations of abuse involving those in their care.
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A few have been forced to shut down, but others remain open.

One of those now shuttered was in Belton. The group home for troubled youth received an estimated $1.5 million annually in state funding. And yet, according to a recent investigation by the Post and Courier, the facility was investigated more than three dozen times for alleged abuse and neglect of the children there since 2000.

However, it wasn’t until a personal injury lawsuit was filed by one of the former residents, now a 23-year-old man, that the facility actually closed its doors. His lawsuit alleges he was raped and tortured by staff members and their friends. He claims he reported the abuse to a social worker and another employee, but nothing was done. Eventually, he said, he just gave up. And he wasn’t the only one – and neither was that facility.

Another center, a psychiatric treatment facility in Rock Hill, was investigated for child abuse and neglect nearly 120 times in the last 15 years.

And it doesn’t stop there. There are actually six group homes and other state institutions that receive federal and state funding that have been investigated at least 80 times since 2000. Most of those are still open, and the findings of the investigations are sealed from public record.

These nonprofit centers reportedly take in some $70 million annually, mostly from state contracts. They do also receive some private funding as well.

Although there are those that say these group homes are a necessity for children and teens with severe behavioral problems with nowhere else to go, there is grave concern about the lack of accountability. Because these children have weak support systems and difficult backgrounds, their claims may be easy to dismiss. They may be easy targets for predators. And because the state depends on these facilities – there are limited options as to their placement without them – there is incentive not to thoroughly examine the allegations, the report indicated.

Even those within the industry acknowledge there are some “bad apples.” But unfortunately for the children, they don’t have a say in where they end up – and they often end up there through no fault of their own.

In South Carolina, the state social services department spends approximately $28 million annually on approximately 90 group homes, which take in about 25 percent of all foster children.

Nationally, there are 7,000 group homes for foster children and orphans, and it’s an $8.8 billion industry.

As our personal injury lawyers know, victims of child sexual abuse can recover damages from the employers of their former abusers by asserting theories of negligence that may include negligent hiring and negligent supervision.

These facilities have a duty to care for the children in their charge. When they fail and children suffer harm as a result, these centers must be held to account.

Contact our Carolina personal injury lawyers at Lee Law Offices today by calling 800-887-1965.

Additional Resources:
Abuse allegations haunt lucrative group homes, July 23, 2015, By Lauren Sausser, The Post and Courier

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