- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 8, 2014

ROMNEY, W.Va. (AP) - A nonprofit center in Romney that serves children and adults with developmental disabilities is being sued by a parent who alleges employees abused a 17-year-old former resident.

The lawsuit claims that the Potomac Center was negligent in in hiring, training and supervising staff to prevent the alleged abuse. It also alleges assault and battery, saying the defendants intended to cause harmful and offensive contact with the teenager, identified only as R.M.

Bailey and Glasser, a Charleston law firm, filed the lawsuit on behalf of R.M. on Monday in Hampshire County Circuit Court. A dozen employees also are named as defendants, The Cumberland Times-News (http://bit.ly/1kG5Jnq ) reported.

The lawsuit alleged than one employee put a foot on R.M.’s chest and sprayed water in his eyes after he got soap in his eyes while bathing.

In another incident, employees put a sheet through a gait belt worn by R.M. while he was taking a shower, wrapped the sheet around the shower head, hoisted him off the floor, spun him around and threatened to hit him. R.M. uses the belt to prevent falls when he suffers a seizure, the lawsuit said.

R.M. lived at the center between Nov. 15, 2013, and Jan. 17, 2014. His parents were told on or about Jan. 17 to pick him up because the center was closing, the lawsuit said.

The center provides residential assistance and support to children and adults with developmental disabilities, along with respite for caregivers. It also manages a foster care program in Romney, Moorefield and Elkins.

The center’s attorney, Charles Johnson, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that center officials have not received the lawsuit and could not comment on it.

In mid-January, the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources removed 24 children from three intensive training program group homes at the center after upper management reported allegations of child abuse. The children were taken to other facilities across the state.

The DHHR also stopped Medicaid funding for the program.

West Virginia State Police, which is investigating the allegations, has said up to 12 children who were removed, ages 7 to 17, were victims of abuse.

Johnson said center officials have worked to address the allegations.

“They take everything that’s happened very seriously,” he said.

Johnson said center officials are waiting to hear from state regulators regarding whether they can reopen the group homes.

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