By Ben Simmoneau
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A local woman tells the CBS 3 I-Team that her seven-year-old son was raped while a patient at a South Jersey hospital, and she says that hospital – Kennedy in Cherry Hill – mishandled the case and has taken little action to protect other patients, even though the incident occurred back in July 2004.
“I dropped off one young man and picked up another, and he has suffered and suffered,” she said to the I-Team. She asked CBS 3 to protect her identity. “What was done to him that night cannot be undone. What he went through cannot be undone.”
The boy’s first night at Kennedy’s Child Crisis Unit, where he was being treated for an emotional problem, he told his mother he was forced to perform oral sex on his roommate, a 14-year-old twice his size. He says a technician who was supposed to be watching the room was sleeping.
“I took him to where I believed he was going to be safe,” the boy’s mother said. “And nearly the worst possible scenario happened to him.”
When the boy told his mother the next day, she says it became clear to her that Kennedy’s staff had no idea how to handle a sexual assault.
“Nobody ever even asked my son if he was okay,” she said.
“They did nothing,” said Jay Edelstein, who represents the woman and her son in a lawsuit against Kennedy. “They had no rape protocol, no rape training, no rape manual, no rape kit. No system in place to protect my young client.”
Edelstein says the technician watching the room that night was cited for sleeping before. What’s more, he says the hospital did not have clear policies in place to handle sexual assaults, even though there had been prior incidents at Kennedy.
“I have had no rape training,” said the nurse in charge of the unit according to a deposition obtained by the I-Team.
“The hospital was aware, from their own personnel’s testimony, of 14 to 16 sexual assaults in that unit or in and around that unit,” Edelstein said.
It’s not clear what, if anything, has changed at Kennedy since the 2004 incident. A spokeswoman refused to answer our questions but provided a statement saying:
“In 2004, when we learned of the allegation, our staff immediately contacted the appropriate authorities. We cooperated with the police and county prosecutor’s office during their investigation… Kennedy has stringent protocols in place to ensure patient safety at all of its hospitals. Because of patient privacy laws, we are not able to provide details about this matter.”
A day after the I-Team contacted Kennedy for comment, the boy’s lawyer says the hospital renewed efforts to settle the case. And now, after dragging on for years, we can tell you a deal has been reached. The terms, though, are not being disclosed.