COLUMBUS (WBNS) – 10 Investigates has found there have been allegations of violence and sexual abuse at other psychiatric and behavioral health facilities across the U.S. that are owned by Sequel Youth and Family Services – the parent company of Sequel Pomegranate.
Sequel Youth and Family Services operates 21 other secure facilities across the U.S.
10 Investigates found issues at those facilities, including:
- In New Jersey, where a former employee alleges in the pending federal lawsuit that "there were several reportable incidents where (the facility) did not report the incident or submitted reports that contained false information..." She also alleged "There was a no snitching policy" and that "...staff would offer juveniles incentives to corroborate false narratives about reportable incidents. In response to the suit, attorneys for Sequel Family and Youth Services deny these allegations.
- In Iowa, a youth advocacy group from Washington state stopped sending children to a Sequel-owned property known as Clarienda Academy after there were concerns raised in 2018 about the use of restraints.
- In Utah, 10 Investigates found that state’s Department of Human Services threatened the license of a Sequel-owned facility there in May. The state found "understaffing has negatively impacted the program's ability to address violence and sexual misconduct within the program. Some of the staff and residents reported feeling unsafe in the program." In response, Sequel Family and Youth Services issued a statement on July 9 that it would be closing the facility in wake of what’s happened there:
- “Sequel Youth and Family Services has decided to initiate a plan to take the Red Rock Canyon School student census to zero. We are passionate about providing excellent programs that make permanent, positive changes in the lives of the people we serve. Over the last few months, in working with the Utah Department of Human Services (DHS), we have recognized that we have not consistently delivered on our mission. As a result, we’re taking this action proactively to do what’s in the best interest of our students and staff, while we address the identified deficiencies and make the program consistent with our standards for the future.”
A months-long investigation by 10 Investigates found both staffers and teens at Sequel Pomegranate in Columbus have been exposed to repeated incidents of violence and sexual at the privately-run psychiatric and behavioral health facility for teens.
Our investigation found that since 2017, there have been 125 incidents of teens going absent without leave; in addition to that there were more than 400 calls for police service, and dozens of documented cases of disturbances, fights, assaults and sexual assaults.
Both Franklin County Children’s Services and the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services say that they have dealt with the issues individually.
As of 4 p.m. Tuesday, Sequel Family and Youth Services had not responded to questions regarding the incidents at Sequel Pomegranate or at its other facilities.
A spokeswoman for Sequel Pomegranate and its outside legal counsel also did not respond to questions seeking comment.
Franklin County Children’s Services did not respond to follow-up questions Tuesday.
10 Investigates also asked the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services if any action had been taken by the state following our initial reports. A spokesman said no.
We also asked what action Ohio is taken given that Utah threatened to pull a Sequel facility there.
The spokesman referred us back to his department’s original statement, which noted that it addresses these incidents individually and that "Sequel Pomegranate has been receptive to corrective action ...."
A spokesman for Governor Mike DeWine said that the governor’s office had been briefed on our reporting.