ProPublica, April 17, 2017
Joaquin Sapien

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A jury in Sacramento, California, last week awarded more than $11 million to the family of a 16-year-old-boy who had been sexually assaulted by a peer at his group home in Davis. The jury found that operators of the group home failed to look after the boy as the facility for troubled youngsters descended into a prolonged period of chaos and violence.

The boy, Deshaun Becton, was 11 at the time of his 15-month stay at the home, but functioned at the level of a 5-year-old, making him especially vulnerable to children with records of violence and predation, the jury found. One night in May 2013, he disappeared for several hours. As it turned out, he was in a public bathroom of a nearby park, where he was victimized by an older, larger female resident of the home. His parents weren’t notified by the home’s staff for 24 hours after he left.

The jury found EMQ FamiliesFirst — one of the largest mental health providers in the state — guilty of neglect, fraud and intentional infliction of emotional distress. It awarded the Bectons damages in the amount of $4.55 million and a separate, punitive verdict of $7.5 million. [...]

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