Lawmakers call for independent investigation into child sexual abuse allegations at Uptown psychiatric hospital

Several state lawmakers on Thursday called for an independent investigation into an Uptown psychiatric hospital that has seen a rise in complaints this year alleging that vulnerable children and teens were sexually and physically abused as a result of lax supervision and improper staff conduct.

Four Democratic legislators said they have written letters to Beverly “B.J.” Walker, the acting director of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, urging a review of Chicago Lakeshore Hospital’s 60-bed children’s unit in the wake of published reports in the Chicago Tribune and by ProPublica Illinois about the recent problems.

Sen. Julie Morrison, a Deerfield Democrat who for years has held statewide hearings regarding various child welfare-related systemic problems, said the recent issues at Chicago Lakeshore require more urgency. She has asked Walker to initiate a 60-day independent investigation by an academic or other expert in the field.

“We seem to be able to identify problems and then there’s no end,” Morrison said. “I want some leadership out of DCFS. I’ve set a timeline so that there’s accountability.”

Besides the state and federal investigations, the Tribune also found that four former adult patients have sued the hospital in the last year alleging sexual assault.

One man said he was sodomized by a much larger male peer in his room in 2015 despite warning staff of his safety concerns, according to one of the lawsuits. The man died earlier this year, according to his lawyer, but his family is continuing the suit.

There is precedent for an outside review.

Several years ago, DCFS had experts at the University of Illinois at Chicago investigate conditions inside various psychiatric hospitals, including Chicago Lakeshore. The university’s 2011 report found that inadequate staffing levels and lax supervision contributed to four incidents in which youths allegedly were sexually assaulted or abused by their peers.

The hospital sharply disputed the findings, and the report was shelved without further action.

The UIC review followed a 2010 Tribune investigation that uncovered multiple allegations of rape or sexual abuse of minors at a half-dozen area psychiatric hospitals, including four incidents at Chicago Lakeshore.

Twitter @christygutowsk1

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Region: Lake County,Courts,Region: Suburbs

via Crime – Lake Zurich Courier

November 1, 2018 at 03:51PM

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