Crime & Courts

Upstate boys home reorganizing following suit

The Boys Home of the South in Belton, accused in a lawsuit of “grossly negligent supervision” in a case that alleges that an 11-year-old boys' home resident was sexually assaulted by an older child in 2011, plans to reorganize and implement a new model of care, according to organization officials.

Officials at the Boys Home, a residential care facility for abused and neglected youth in the Upstate, will announce details of their new organizational structure today at a press conference at the Belton campus.

The lawsuit, filed earlier this year in Abbeville County, alleges the organization — a nonprofit Greenville County corporation that provides foster care to children in the custody of the South Carolina Department of Social Services — failed to track adequately and use information about “child-on-child maltreatment” in the care and supervision of children living at the facility.

Boys Home officials denied any wrongdoing, court filings show.

In a statement, Boys Home of the South CEO Al Squire said his organization has cared for more than 10,000 boys since it was founded in 1958, complies with all regulatory requirements and has residents' care as “our utmost concern.”

"If over the years inappropriate conduct were to occur, we would, and will, respond with proper protocols," said Squire, who became CEO May 3. "We will continue to work with DSS in matters of care for boys."

The suit also accuses the state DSS, which is a named defendant, of gross negligence and violating the victim's rights to safe and secure placement.

DSS officials said in a court filing that the claims against the agency should be dismissed. Gov. Nikki Haley, DSS officials and others also are named as defendants.

The victim, identified only as “John Doe,” is an Abbeville County resident, court records show. The lawsuit was brought by his guardian, the records show.

Doe was sexually assaulted on two separate occasions by an older boy who was housed in the same cottage at the Boys Home, according to the lawsuit.

The older boy had a history of sexually inappropriate behavior with other boys at the facility, the lawsuit alleges. That history was known to Boys Home and DSS officials, the lawsuit alleges.

In addition, the lawsuit alleges DSS and the Boys Home in 2010 and 2011 failed to require caretakers in residential facilities to remain awake at night, “which violated accepted professional child welfare standards.”

After the alleged abuse, the younger boy didn’t receive “desperately needed” mental health treatment for months, the lawsuit alleges. A week after the incident, he attempted to cut his wrist with a razor blade, according to the lawsuit.