Although Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health Centers is one of the nation’s largest chain of behavioral health nonprofits, it does not have an Oregon location. Devereux does span both coasts, however, with centers in California and New Jersey, along with locations in Pennsylvania, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, New York, Texas, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
Former AG leading independent inquiry
According to recent news reports, Devereux has hired former U.S. Attorney General Lorretta Lynch to conduct an “independent safety audit” into sexual abuse against children that took place at its facilities scattered across eight states over the past 25 years.
In a released statement, Devereux said Lynch is to examine “policies and procedures regarding safety at the organization’s children’s behavioral health care programs.”
Dozens of cases
The company’s chief strategy officer said the audit isn’t required by regulations and is not the result of any outside requests. However, the review does follow a report last month by the Philadelphia Inquirer which found “at least 41 cases in which children had been raped or sexually assaulted at Devereux facilities,” a PBS news article stated.
The newspaper reported that children said they were abused in facilities in the Philadelphia suburbs, New Jersey and six other states.
On its website, Devereux says it serves the “most vulnerable members of our society in areas of autism, intellectual and developmental disabilities, specialty mental health, and child welfare.”
A common thread
The newspaper’s investigation found that some of the kids were as young as 12 when they were abused, and that the facilities named in the allegations had several traits in common, including staff shortages, low pay and low-skill direct-care workers.
Devereux says the allegations were all properly investigated. The company also says prospective employees must pass background checks for criminal history and child abuse. It has added a test screening job applicants on the recognition of sexual boundaries between children and adults.
The company declined to state whether the results of Lynch’s “safety audit” will be made public.