Cumberland Times-News

Local News

April 7, 2014

Suit alleges abuse against Potomac Center resident

Complaint filed on behalf of 17-year-old

ROMNEY, W.Va. — A lawsuit filed by the parent of a former resident at the Potomac Center alleges abuse and says the facility failed to supervise its employees.

The suit was filed in Hampshire County Circuit Court on April 7 by Bailey and Glasser, a Charleston law firm, on behalf of R.M., a 17-year-old former resident, against the center and 12 employees.

The complaint says the action arises out of abuse that was directed toward R.M. and other residents of the Romney-based center.

It says the Potomac Center’s mission was to provide residential assistance and support to children and adults with developmental disabilities and that a criminal investigation revealed that certain agents and employees of the center were abusing the residents, including plaintiff R.M.

R.M. is developmentally disabled and resided at the center between Nov. 15, 2013, and Jan. 17, 2014, at which time he suffered known acts of physical and emotional abuse, according to the suit.

Allegations include an incident in which R.M. got soap in the eyes while bathing. An employee reportedly put his or her foot on R.M’s chest and sprayed water in R.M.’s eyes, the complaint alleges.

In addition, the complaint says R.M. uses a gait belt that keeps him from falling when suffering a seizure. “He was taking a shower and certain John or Jane Does employed by the defendant put a sheet through the belt, wrapped the sheet around the shower head, hoisted him off the floor, spun him around and threatened to hit him,” the complaint alleges.

A soft helmet that R.M. wore to protect a head injury was nailed to the wall by employees while he was wearing it, according to the complaint.

The parents were informed on or about Jan. 17 that the Potomac Center was being closed and instructed to pick up R.M.

The suit alleges the center was negligent in hiring, training and supervising staff to prevent abuses that occurred and says the defendants intentionally and recklessly caused R.M. to suffer intense emotional distress through the alleged abuses.

The suit also accuses the center of assault and battery, saying the defendants intended to cause harmful and offensive contact with R.M.

Isaac R. Forman, an attorney handling the case for Bailey and Glasser, said Monday afternoon he had no comment.

Twenty-four children were taken from the Potomac Center campus Jan. 16 and 17.

West Virginia State Police said as many as 12 residents, ages 7 to 17, out of the 24 removed from the center were victims of abuse and potentially 10 suspects were identified.

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