Call for Witnesses: Survivors of Sexual Assault at Green Hill School
Green Hill School – more of a juvenile detention center for males than a school – houses male teenagers from across the state who are sentenced to juvenile rehabilitation treatment. The facility has a history of sexual abuse spanning approximately 50 years between 1976 and present. In 2021, PCVA attorneys Darrell Cochran and Patrick Brown reached a settlement of more than $2 million with the State of Washington for 10 plaintiffs who, as teenage wards of the state, were repeatedly sexually abused. We believe many more former Green Hill School residents have yet to come forward and demand justice for the sexual abuse they experienced under the state’s less-than-watchful eye.
This article provides information about the abuse that occurred at Green Hill School as well as answers to frequently asked questions about child sex abuse lawsuits.
What are the complaints against Green Hill School?
The complainants accused the State of Washington, the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), the Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration and Green Hill School of negligence “for their systematic failures to protect plaintiffs” and claims the state “actively endangered them and sacrificed their wellbeing to protect itself from liability.”
Additionally, the complaint filed by the 10 plaintiffs alleged that Green Hill School “fostered a culture of sexual abuse and cover-ups” and thus “allowed and even fostered sexual abuse of residents.” These plaintiffs, and many other former residents, assert they were sexually abused repeatedly while in state custody.
The oldest plaintiff was 18 and the youngest was 14 when they entered Green Hill School, each residing there for one to four years. All known survivors were between the ages of 15 and 18 when the abuse occurred.
What has been reported about abuse at Green Hill School?
In the 2021 settlement with Washington State, the 10 plaintiffs were awarded compensation that ranged from $40,000 to $350,000 per plaintiff. Yet, to date, no disciplinary action has been taken against any of the individuals named in the suit, and none of the individuals named by plaintiffs are listed as defendants in the lawsuit.
Instead, the complaint accuses the state, DSHS, the Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration and Green Hill School of being “negligent in their hiring, monitoring, and supervising of both their staff and residents by allowing sexual predators to have unlimited, unsupervised access to vulnerable children at Green Hill.”
Some of the plaintiffs reported abuse at the hands of other Green Hill residents, while others suffered at the hands of now-former Green Hill staff members. For example, Dr. Isaac Pope was described as repeatedly assaulting one of the plaintiffs from 2001 to 2002 while Pope was working at Green Hill as a contracted medical provider. The plaintiff was 15 at the time.
The complainants allege that if the residents complained or fought back, they were threatened with punishment. When they reported the abuse to male staffers, their complaints were ignored. Investigations, if they occurred at all, were brief, insubstantial, and resulted in no intervention. One survivor states that he even tried to call the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) hotline but was prevented from using the phone.
For decades, Green Hill School fostered a culture of sexual abuse and cover-ups. PCVA has contended the state knew or should have known that the culture of sexually inappropriate behavior at Green Hill was pervasive, yet it allowed and even fostered sexual abuse of residents.
Green Hill School had a history of hiring staff with no prior experience working with children, troubled youth, and/or who had no experience working in correctional facilities. The state provided no training on recognizing signs of sexual abuse, grooming behavior and boundary invasion. Green Hill School was a breeding ground for sexual abuse because pedophiles and sex offenders could abuse children with impunity.
Are there others who were abused at Green Hill School?
We believe there are many others who have not yet come forward. While only 10 plaintiffs were named in this case, we have reason to believe that hundreds of former Green Hill residents experienced sexual abuse at the facility. We currently have multiple, multi-plaintiff lawsuits against Green Hill School pending.
Several former Green Hill staff members have been convicted in recent years on charges relating to sexual misconduct at Green Hill School. In one such case, a former staff member was convicted on charges of second-degree assault and fourth-degree assault with sexual motivation stemming from a sexually explicit phone conversation with a Green Hill inmate in 2017. In 2009, when a former cook at Green Hill was convicted of custodial sexual misconduct and sentenced to 30 days in jail, she told investigators that at least five other staff members were having sexual relations with inmates and that the school had a “culture of sexual misconduct.” Recently, another survivor has filed criminal allegations against a Green Hill School counselor who was convicted yet served only two weeks in jail.
As allegations of abuse at Green Hill School continue to surface, PCVA attorneys will be deeply involved in helping those who suffered finally achieve the justice and compensation they deserve.
Why don’t the abused always come forward right away?
Those who have been sexually abused often don’t come forward right away. The psychological reasons are many, but common reasons include: shame, guilt, denial or disbelief, uncertainty, fear of not being believed, avoidance, or lack of information. Seeing survivors coming forward may inspire confidence and hope in others and could even bring long-suppressed memories of abuse to the forefront. Everyone has a right to tell their story, be heard and, if possible, achieve justice for the suffering they experienced.
I believe I was abused at Green Hill School, but does it merit filing a lawsuit?
The decision to file a civil lawsuit over damages caused by sexual abuse is a personal one, and several factors must be considered. A lawsuit will allow you to expose the wrongs of your perpetrator and potentially receive financial compensation for your pain. However, you will have to provide information about the trauma you experienced as well as other aspects of your personal life.
PCVA’s sexual abuse attorneys are trained in trauma-informed counsel. This means that to prevent re-traumatization, we have undergone professional training on how to work with individuals who have been subjected to trauma. When you work with us, know that you are working with an advocate who represents you with the utmost empathy and care.
According to PCVA’s Darrell Cochran, “There are two reasons to file lawsuits in cases that are even decades old: to help finance a fresh start for the alleged victims and to make sure Washington State’s children are safe in the future. And too often, those who suffered abuse never speak out, harboring the effects for the rest of their lives, including an increased risk for suicide, substance abuse, and PTSD. Only a licensed attorney experienced in sexual abuse matters such as these can advise you on your specific situation.”
I was abused at Green Hill School in the past, but it was long ago and I was a minor. Can I still sue?
Most likely. In Washington State, a special statute of limitations allows many victims of childhood sexual abuse to file lawsuits for the abuse they suffered many years later, even as adults. That law recognizes that survivors of childhood sexual abuse may not realize or appreciate how the sexual abuse harmed them until much later in life.
How can sexual abuse survivors seek damages?
Our attorneys have been involved in some of the most complicated and concerning sexual abuse cases in the country and are often consulted by other law firms for guidance when representing sexual abuse survivors. We take a trauma-informed approach to our representation that acknowledges the sensitive nature of these cases.
Every case is different and our prior results – which depend on the facts of the case – cannot be guaranteed. However, we will fight to hold accountable the institutions and individuals who failed to protect survivors. Through our efforts, we have helped recover hundreds of millions of dollars in damages on behalf of abuse survivors. While no amount of monetary compensation can erase the trauma of abuse, the financial assistance can help pay for necessary expenses to allow the healing process to begin.
If you or someone you know has experienced sexual abuse or assault at Green Hills School, our attorneys are here to listen and help.
Schedule a no obligation consultation with one of our lawyers by completing our online form or calling us at (253) 948-3199 or (206) 536-2850. All conversations are completely confidential.
Can I come forward or sue anonymously if I’m worried about my privacy?
Most likely. The law usually allows attorneys to file lawsuits on behalf of survivors of sexual abuse using a pseudonym, like “John Doe” or “Jane Doe,” or our client’s initials. Moreover, it may be possible to resolve your case privately without filing a lawsuit or going to court.
How much do you charge?
Our work is done on a contingency basis. This means that you do not pay us on an hourly basis, and we advance the costs of litigation. If we help you resolve your case, we receive a percentage of the amount you receive, and you reimburse us for the costs we advanced on your behalf.
Media coverage about the settlement against Green Hill School
- AP News, “State settles juvenile facility sex abuse lawsuit for $2.1M”
- Yahoo! News, “Former Green Hill Inmates Reach $2 Million Settlement With State Over Sexual Abuse Allegations”
- The News Tribune, “WA agrees to settle lawsuit about abuse at Green Hill School juvenile facility” (available to subscribers)
- KIRO 7, “WA agrees to settle lawsuit about abuse at Green Hill School juvenile facility”
Our Case Results
- $9M Settlement Reached in Kiwanis International Sexual Abuse Lawsuit
- $6M Settlement Reached in Sexual Abuse Lawsuit Against Kiwanis International
- $4.9M Settlement Reached in Toutle River Boys Ranch Sex Abuse Lawsuit
- $4.2M Settlement Reached in Coach Sexual Abuse Case Against University Place School District
- $1.4M Settlement Reached in Washington Department of Social and Health Services Foster Services Sex Abuse Lawsuit