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Contact: Chris Case, 360-902-7892, cell 360-485-8234, chris.case@dshs.wa.gov
March 15, 2013
State settles lawsuit by victim of sexual abuse at mental health facility

OLYMPIA: The Department of Social and Health Services today reached a $3 million settlement in a lawsuit brought by a young woman who was sexually abused more than a decade ago by a staff member at the Child Study and Treatment Center while she was a patient there. The agreement also settles the young woman’s claims against the superintendent of the mental health facility at the time of the sexual abuse.


The suit alleged that supervisors failed to properly supervise staff member Tony Grant, who had sex with the young woman when she was a patient at the Lakewood facility in 2001-2003. Child Study and Treatment Center administrators fired Grant when the abuse was disclosed. He later pled guilty to misdemeanor criminal charges.


The plaintiff initially sued the state for $12.5 million. DSHS denied liability for the plaintiff’s claims that it was responsible for the criminal actions of its former employee Tony Grant who had passed several criminal background checks prior to being hired by CSTC. Claims brought against another administrator were ordered dismissed earlier this year by the court.


Child Study and Treatment Center serves and continues to serve a very high risk population of children and adolescents with histories of victimization, trauma and victimizing of other. The protection of the safety of patients always has been and continues to be the highest priority for administrators at Child Study and Treatment Center.


Supervision policies and practices been the CSTC have been strengthened in the 10 years since the events in this case took place. For example, male staff members are not allowed to have unsupervised time with female patients at any time.


"These vulnerable young people deserve a safe, protective setting," said DSHS spokesman Thomas Shapley. "We deeply regret what happened to this young woman. We hope that she will use the money from this settlement to get the help she needs to recover from that traumatic time in her life."

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DSHS does not discriminate and provides equal access to its programs and services for all persons without regard to race, color, gender, religion, creed, marital status, national origin, sexual orientation, age, veteran’s status or the presence of any physical, sensory or mental disability.