Thursday, July 7, 2011

Former C.O. Wilderness School Students File Abuse Suit

Posted By on Thu, Jul 7, 2011 at 1:56 AM

Nine former students of a wilderness boarding school outside Prineville that was shut down by state authorities amid claims of abuse have filed suit against the institution, according to a Portland law firm that is representing the plaintiffs.

According to a court filing provided by the O’Donnell, Clark and Crew law firm, the former students, all of whom attended Mt. Bachelor Academy in the 1990s, are seeking $14 million in damages over claims of battery, negligence and emotional abuse. The state of Oregon shut the therapeutic boarding school down in 2009. Ultimately, the state and school entered a settlement agreement that fell short of sanctions however, the school has not re-opened since. The suit names both Mt. Bachelor Academy and its parent company Aspen Education Group, a national organization that once operated dozens of boarding schools for troubled youth, as defendants.

According to plaintiffs’ attorneys, four youths have died at Aspen owned facilities since 2004. While none of those deaths occurred at Mt. Bachelor Academy, another Central Oregon-based boarding school operated by Aspen, Redmond’s Sagewalk Wilderness School, was the subject of a criminal investigation after one of its students died on a hike in 2009 after showing repeated signs of heat exhaustion. The school has since been closed.

The suit against Mt. Bachelor Academy was filed Wednesday in Multnomah District Court.

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