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Victims Of Sexual Abuse At Virginia’s Cumberland Hospital May Be Eligible For Justice And Potential Compensation

Victims Of Sexual Abuse At Virginia’s Cumberland Hospital May Be Eligible For Justice And Potential Compensation


We urge survivors of physical and sexual abuse from Cumberland Hospital to request an eligibility review to confirm that you or your child:

  • Were or was admitted to Cumberland Hospital Virginia for treatment;
  • Were or was sexually or physically abused while a patient;
  • Were or was 17 years of age or younger when the abuse occurred; and,
  • Are not already represented in this case by an attorney.

In October 2020, a multi-count civil lawsuit was filed on behalf of 20 plaintiffs against Cumberland Hospital, alleging assault and battery, negligence, fraud, reckless disregard, and violations of Virginia’s Consumer Protection Act.

Cumberland Hospital, operated by Universal Health Services in New Kent County, is a residential center in Virginia that treats adolescents with neurobehavioral issues, brain trauma, and chronic health conditions.

The initial $127 million lawsuit has expanded to include 27 additional plaintiffs, all of whom were children when the abuse and battery occurred.

The lawsuits target the facility, former medical director, and Universal Health Services, citing negligence, assault, battery, child rights violations, and other crimes.

According to reports in October 2021, there have been documented instances of the hospital violating its seclusion protocol long after it was first investigated criminally in October 2017.

Former patients claim they were sexually abused through unnecessary “femoral pulse checks” meant to fondle intimate body parts, while over half of the 20 plaintiffs allege non-consensual touching.

Two young women recounted how they were forced to endure being groped on their breasts and genitals during physical exams upon their admission to Cumberland—one woman said she was in shock and teared up.

The abuse reportedly continued during subsequent exams, and other women described additional inappropriate encounters.

Prosecutors argued that the exams were a pretext for abuse, noting the girls' vulnerability as they lived without their parents or caregivers in the specialized residential facility.

Prosecutors also explained how the perpetrator had complete control over them as the medical director.

Additionally, the hospital faces accusations of failing to maintain adequate staff to protect residents from abuse by employees or other patients and keeping patients longer than necessary to maximize revenue.

The Virginia State Police began investigating Cumberland staff in October 2017—this is at least the third former staffer charged with a crime involving a patient.

One psychotherapist charged with sexual abuse died by suicide before a plea hearing, and a behavioral technician was sentenced to a year in prison for intentionally burning a disabled child.

Poor Oversight And A System That Values Profit Over Child Safety, Well-Being

The Senate Finance Committee’s report came out before a hearing on the findings from a two-year investigation into four significant operators of children’s residential treatment facilities: Universal Health Services, Acadia Healthcare, Vivant Behavioral Healthcare (for-profit companies), and Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health (a nonprofit organization).

A Senate committee reported that children in some of the nation’s largest behavioral health companies' residential treatment facilities face risks like sexual abuse, dangerous physical restraints, and overmedication. These problems are worsened by poor oversight and a system that values profit over the safety and well-being of the children.

The companies investigated get daily payments from Medicaid and other government sources to care for many kids with developmental disabilities or those in foster care. The report revealed many civil rights violations, like overusing seclusion and "chemical restraints"—injections to keep children calm even when they didn't need it.

Senator Ron Wyden, chair of the committee, revealed that American tax dollars fund these abuses

He pointed out that some facilities receive over $1,200 per child each day from Medicaid, yet the children endure traumatic experiences, such as:

  • One staff member at an Oklahoma Universal Health facility admitted to molesting a girl, planning to pursue a relationship with her when she turned 18.
  • An Arkansas Acadia facility staff improperly used seclusion and chemical restraints on children 110 times in 30 days, which is against federal regulations. 
  • Devereux denied claims of abusive or unsanitary conditions and emphasized its careful use of medication and efforts to address staffing challenges.
  • Universal Health Services disputed claims of understaffing and unsafe conditions, asserting that not following protocols were rare exceptions.

A lecture by Sequel’s founder, Jay Ripley, focused on minimizing staffing costs to make money. Ripley later founded Vivant, which took over many Sequel operations after states cut contracts with Sequel due to these issues.

The Senate report urged the companies to:

  • Review staffing, install more security cameras;
  • Comply with federal regulations on restraints; 
  • Commit to broader improvements when violations occur, not just site-specific fixes.

The report concluded that unless significant changes are made, children will continue to suffer in these facilities.

We believe all victims who have experienced sexual and physical abuse at Cumberland Hospital in Virginia should receive justice and potential compensation, beginning with a free, private case review with our experienced legal team.

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