COLUMBUS (WBNS) – Franklin County Children Services has stopped sending children to Sequel Pomegranate in wake of a “pattern of concerns over the last several months,” an FCCS spokeswoman told 10 Investigates Monday.
When asked what specifically prompted this move, FCCS spokeswoman Alison Rodgers told 10 Investigates that the decision was made last month to suspend admissions to the teen psychiatric facility in wake of concerns with how children are being restrained along with concerns about allegations of violence and sexual abuse.
Rodgers said that it was not one single incident but rather a cumulative effect of the issues that 10 Investigates has been reporting on since July.
There is no timeframe on how long the suspension will be, but Rodgers said that they are working with Sequel Pomegranate to address concerns.
In July, 10 Investigates’ months-long investigation found that since 2017 there have been hundreds of calls for service to the Columbus Division of Police for things like disturbances, alleged assaults and sexual abuse.
A 2018 federal lawsuit that has since been settled alleged that one boy claimed he was held down and sexually assaulted by a group of boys inside the facility who weren’t being supervised. Franklin County Children Services substantiated that allegation of abuse.
In late July, following 10 Investigates’ first report, Governor Mike DeWine ordered the director of the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services to tour Sequel Pomegranate (OHMAS licenses the facility). At the time, Lori Criss said she found the facility to be “clean, safe and therapeutic,” but she later qualified her remarks to say that’s what she observed at the time.
Her department has since raised concerns about how children are being restrained inside the facility. OHMAS inspectors have continued to conduct both announced and unannounced visits to the facility, according to a November site visit report submitted by FCCS.
That same report noted that FCCS had its own concerns with a lag of two to three days of incidents being reported by Sequel Pomegranate. The CEO at the time, Angela Nickell, told FCCS that it was because no one had been trained to enter the report on the weekend. Nickell is no longer employed at Sequel Pomegranate – according to her own Facebook post.
OHMAS is also threatening to pull the license of Sequel Pomegranate’s acute hospital portion after a child was assaulted by a nurse and mental health advocate during a restraint in late October. Sequel Pomegranate voluntarily suspended admissions to its acute hospital in November in wake of that incident
A hearing on the licensure is set for January 14 and 15.
Calls and emails placed with Sequel Pomegranate but were not returned.