The legal guardians of a 10-year-old girl say their daughter was sexually assaulted at the St. Albans Boys and Girls Club then publicly shamed by one of the employees the same day.
Club staff failed to appropriately supervise children at the club in August 2018, and the staff further subjected the girl to “malicious public shaming” regarding the assault making her the “topic of gossip and further humiliation” when she returned to school, according to a lawsuit the guardians filed against the club.
The girl’s guardians originally filed the lawsuit in Kanawha Circuit Court on Aug. 26, and attorneys for the club moved the case to U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia on Sept. 26.
The guardians are suing the Boys and Girls Club and The Salvation Army, which operated the club.
The Salvation Army contacted all of the relevant regulatory agencies that would be involved in a sexual assault case, said Salvation Army Major Gene Hogg, commander for the organization in West Virginia and Central Maryland. He declined to comment further on the lawsuit.
“The officers and the members of the Salvation Army are deeply upset about reports of this nature,” Hogg said. “We’re concerned about the little girl that was involved, and we’re cooperating and making sure all information is shared with the appropriate authorities.”
The girl, who is identified by her initials in the lawsuit, was 10 years old when she attended the summer program at the Boys and Girls Club in St. Albans during the summer of 2018.
One day in August 2018, two boys physically dragged the girl from an outdoor playground to a stairwell at the club, her guardians said. All three of the children were participants in the club’s summer care program at the time.
In the stairwell, the girl was forced to perform oral sex on one of the boys while the other held her in place, her guardians said in the lawsuit.
After the assault, an unnamed Boys and Girls Club employee “called [the girl] to the front of the room full of summer care children and loudly asked if [the girl] had ‘put [male youth’s] thing in her mouth,’” according to the lawsuit.
“[The girl] was mortified by Jane Doe Girls and Boys Club employee, and after trying to explain that the male youths had forced her to put his penis in her mouth, [the girl] ran from the room.”
Staff from the club informed the girl’s guardians of the assault the same day, and police performed a forensic evaluation on the girl, according to the lawsuit.
The guardians said representatives with the Boys and Girls Club said they were waiting for an investigation by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources before conducting an internal investigation.
The girl’s guardians said they had not been contacted by anyone in DHHR at the time they filed the lawsuit.
The Boys and Girls Club fired “those present” at the club the day the girl was sexually assaulted, according to the lawsuit.
The girl’s family is seeking unspecified damages. They are represented by Christopher J. Heavens from Heavens Law Firm PLLC in Charleston and James McQueen Jr. and Amanda Davis with McQueen Davis PLLC in Huntington.