Investigations into allegations of child sexual abuse at a North Georgia ranch for children in need are continuing by Channel 2 Action News.
Former houseparents at Eagle Ranch who claim their own children were harmed and the facility wasn’t suited to safeguard them were only available to speak with investigative reporter Mark Winne of Channel 2.
These employees have since filed lawsuits alleging flaws with safeguards and youth-on-youth sex abuse.
Winne spoke to a couple who claim to have been houseparents in the past and whose child had been victimised by an older child.
In order to protect the identity of the affected child, we will refer to the parents as SM, the mother, and JM, the father.
Why did you file this lawsuit, exactly? Winne enquired.
“It was shedding light on the darkness for me. This has been the most difficult experience I’ve had as a parent with my child, said SM.
JM remarked, “I want everyone to know precisely what’s going on at Eagle Ranch.
The former houseparents admitted to Winne that their Christian faith and their prior experience as volunteers in another ministry initially drew them to the opportunity to work at the Eagle Ranch, which describes itself as a Christ-centered residential facility in Flowery Branch for children in crisis.
We were very moved by the suffering and devastation we witnessed, and we wanted to be a part of a ministry that helped children find hope, according to SM.
However, they claim that the sexual assault their then-5-year-old allegedly faced at the hands of the 9-year-old son of other Eagle Ranch houseparents left them feeling broken.
JM confessed, “I was absolutely broken.
Since the autumn, Channel 2 Action News has been investigating three lawsuits against Eagle Ranch that allege the sexual assault of a kid by another young person. If the claims in each case are true, it would appear that Eagle Ranch’s shortcomings helped to set the stage for what occurred.
According to a statement from Eagle Ranch, “We vehemently contest the allegations stated in each case and think the allegations are without foundation. The Ranch intends to vigorously refute these allegations.
Chris Anulewicz is the attorney for the families of SM and JM who are suing the ranch.
“I believe that the main goal is for things to change. We want safeguards in place for all children who attend Eagle Ranch, or actually for all children who attend institutions like these, said Anulewicz.
“Eagle Ranch’s incompetence in effectively training its employees and others and this generated undue risks of danger to both the staff kids and eagle ranch kids,” is one of the many accusations in the lawsuit involving SM and JM’s son.
These accusations are denied by Eagle Ranch.
“Have you ever had any training on how to stop or handle sexual abuse?” Winne questioned JM.
No, we didn’t, JM responded.
Two lawsuits against Eagle Ranch have been filed, according to attorneys Mark Johnson and Nicole Bigman, each on behalf of a different family whose child was a resident who had been sexually abused by another young resident, abuse that could have been avoided with appropriate precautions.
Eagle Ranch has refuted the claims made in each case, according to Johnson.
“When we first visited Eagle Ranch, we hoped that they would join us in our efforts to protect children. Instead, they turned on my clients in retaliation. Added Anulewicz.
Eagle Ranch refuted a claim of retribution in a court document, saying that would be a clear violation of its own whistleblower policy.
According to SM, a forensic interviewer judged their son believable after she reported the event to the police.
However, she and her husband claimed that after a protracted chain of unfortunate events, including being made to attend a reconciliation meeting with the 9-year-parents old’s where “each person will be compelled to repent to the other,” they ultimately lost their employment.
We were instructed to make amends for the ways in which we had injured them during this process, SM remarked.
JM stated, “I had a talk with the parent where I claimed that his kid had abused mine and that he was a predator and I was meant to repent for that conversation.”
Eagle Ranch denies requiring them to discuss the incident with the other family at the resort in a court document.
SM remarked, “I don’t understand how somebody goes through this without knowing Christ. The thing I’ve had to hold on to during the really dark days has been the fact that God can utilise all of this for his glory. he can utilise this.”
He didn’t start it, but how can he use it to help others? Winne enquired.
Yes, to save other people, replied SM.
According to SM and JM, their son has never been the same child he was prior to the incident, and most recently, his therapist stated that he will need to continue working on it for a very long time.
According to a statement from Eagle Ranch, it has helped more than 2,000 children and families in need over the course of close to 40 years.
“We work to establish a nurturing, orderly home life in a tranquil and secure setting.”
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