Claims of past abuse surface at Kurn Hattin

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WESTMINSTER — A law firm that represented abuse survivors of Larry Nassar, a former USA Gymnastics national team doctor, is representing men and women who say they were physically and sexually abused at Kurn Hattin Homes for Children.

"Even though the abuse happened decades ago, the survivors can still make a difference today by holding the school accountable," Kim Dougherty, partner at Andrus Wagstaff, said in a statement. "While a lawsuit can't change what happened, it can expose the truth, help protect other children from being hurt and allow our survivor clients to heal."

Andrus Wagstaff has partnered with A Case for Women, which describes its mission as "informing women about the affordable legal options that are available if and when they've been hurt by one of the Big Bads — negligent pharmaceutical companies, financial institutions, product manufacturers or even companies or schools that 'look the other way' when women are assaulted."

"There are truly no words to describe what children suffered at this school," Susan Knape, founder of A Case for Women, said in the statement. "I can't believe the school chose to cover up the abuse rather than address it; this inaction put countless more children in harm's way. The school's reputation was more important than protecting children, and there's nothing that can ever justify that choice."

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According to the statement, Andrus Wagstaff contends it has documented dozens of cases from survivors who have come forward "with stories of physical and sexual abuse at the hands of teachers, administrators and others."

"While evidence suggests school leadership knew about the abuse, no action was taken to stop it or remove the accused abusers," the statement reads. "Instead, a culture of abuse permeated the school and caused a decades-long cycle of child abuse that many of the school's alumni are still dealing with today."

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Andrus Wagstaff, led by Dougherty, was one of the law firms that took on Michigan State University on behalf of numerous young gymnasts who were sexually abused over decades by Nassar. The firm also filed lawsuits against the United States Olympic Committee and USA Gymnastics to hold those entities accountable for helping to cover up widespread abuse in the sport.

Andrus Wagstaff has taken on sexual abuse litigation cases, working with sex trafficking survivors, clergy abuse survivors, Boy Scout abuse survivors and dozens of survivors abused in schools, foster care, and other settings.

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Andrus Wagstaff is continuing to collect complaints from former Kurn Hattin students at Survivorsupport@andruswagstaff.com or 508-269-3394.

Kurn Hattin Homes was founded in 1894 by Charles Albert Dickinson. The charitable home and school serves children ages 6 through 15 who have been affected by tragedy, social or economic hardship or disruption in family life.

Requests for Kurn Hattin comment were not returned by press time.

Bob Audette can be contacted at raudette@reformer.com.


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