Friday, April 12, 2013

Woman abused as teen at state-run treatment center awarded $3 million

A young woman who was sexually abused as a girl at a state-run youth treatment center in Lakewood will receive $3 million to settle a lawsuit against the state Department of Social and Health Services.

The agency announced the payout to Crystal Ammons on Friday.

“We deeply regret what happened to this young woman,” DSHS spokesman Thomas Shapley said.
“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.”

The abuse occurred at the Child Study and Treatment Center on the grounds of Western State Hospital. The girl, then 14, was a patient there when a psychiatric child-care counselor named Anthony Grant engaged her in a sexual relationship in 2003, court records show.

The girl told investigators she developed a crush on Grant and that they sometimes would “make out” in the treatment center’s canteen, the records show. The sessions escalated to sexual intercourse and other contact, including an encounter in an off-site movie theater.

The relationship ended when the girl moved out of state, but she and Grant kept in touch via email. The abuse came to light when the girl told her foster mother about it, court records show.

“(The girl’s) emails to defendant clearly state her love for him,” Pierce County prosecutors wrote when they charged Grant with three counts of third-degree child rape and one count of third-degree child molestation in November 2003.

Grant ultimately pleaded guilty to communication with a minor for immoral purposes and received a suspended sentence. He was forced to register as a sex offender.

The girl filed a $12.5 million claim against the state before suing in August 2008.

DSHS denied her contentions that it was responsible for the criminal actions of Grant, who passed a series of background checks before being hired.

Grant worked from home for six weeks with full pay after the allegations arose but ultimately was fired.

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