Thursday, August 09, 2007

Psychiatric Center for Teenagers Is Mired in Patient Accusations of Rape

This story highlights another area where those who are hurting can have their pain exploited. If a teen was troubled, possibly with a history of abuse, before being sexually assaulted in a place where they are supposed to be helped, the best psychiatric services can made irrelevant.

A widely respected residential psychiatric treatment center for teenagers in Manhattan acknowledged yesterday that it was cooperating with law-enforcement authorities who have charged three former employees with sexually assaulting girls at the center in recent years.

The suspects, all child-care workers for the August Aichhorn Center for Adolescent Residential Care at 23 West 106th Street, were fired in May and early June after being indicted on multiple counts of rape, sexual abuse and sexual misconduct involving at least four girls younger than 17.

The problem here must be seen as being bigger than a few bad employees. If initial signs of a problem were dismissed because girls in this facility are naturally angry or naturally sullen, that opens the door to those who wish to exploit or harm the most vulnerable.

According to the story this facility is among the best at what it designed to do and has procedures designed to protect patients and staff. If this can happen at the best, imagine what can happen at the worst facilities.

Most of the alleged crimes date to the last couple of years, but one of them dates back to 2002. The gap makes sense if a rapist worried about being caught but then when no criminal charges came assumed there would be no consequences and began to feel more confident in his exploitation. Since 3 employees are involved it makes me wonder if they talked about the girls in a way that if overheard should have been a red flag that they had crossed a line or approved crossing a line with patients.

Cases like this are why I speak out against those who demand that we dismiss any report of rape made by someone who isn't considered a credible witness. Those who say, "I know girls like that and they are always making false accusations" are an important part of the problem.

Basically, they are telling rapists, "You can rape these girls and no matter what they say, I won't believe them and will call them liars and will actively work to see the charges dropped against you."

When these people are investigators, prosecutors, judges or members of a jury they are outright dangerous to public safety.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:29 AM   0 comments links to this post


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