A lawsuit filed against a Courtland psychiatric youth treatment facility in the Lawrence County Circuit Court System claims a teenage boy suffered abuse and neglect during his stay at the facility. 

Tommy James, an attorney representing the boy identified only as Hunter C., said his client lived at Sequel TSI of Courtland in 2018 and 2019, where he endured “multiple traumas to his head causing concussions, lacerations that required stitches, hematomas and other injuries.”

The lawsuit claims Sequel of Courtland denied Hunter C. adequate medical, vision and dental treatment, and failed to provide mental health services the facility claims to offer. 

Sequel Youth and Family Services, LLC, is a for profit company with 20 facilities nationwide, including the Courtland facility and another center at Owens Cross Roads. In August of 2019, Sequel TSI of Madison had its business license revoked by the city’s council following a series of incidents concerning juveniles who had escaped from the facility. 

According to the lawsuit filed against Courtland’s facility in December, the Alabama Department of Human Resources places at-risk children in the facility to receive medically required mental health care. The state pays Sequel about $330 per child for every day the child is housed at a Sequel facility. 

“There is systemic violence in Sequel facilities throughout the country,” James said. “The level of abuse is staggering and very disturbing. No informed parent would ever allow their child to spend even one hour in a Sequel facility.”

The attorney alleges that his client was assaulted by employees and other Sequel residents numerous times during the client’s stay in Courtland, which led to his client attempting suicide in Feb. 2019. 

“He was assaulted four times within 10 days before he got a long sleeve shirt, took it to the bathroom, and tried to hang himself on a shower head,” James reported.

“The living conditions at Sequel Courtland are deplorable. It resembles a prison,” he said. “The children sleep on concrete slabs in empty rooms with broken windows. Feces and blood are smeared on the walls, floors and windows. It is infested with rodents, snakes and bugs. No child should have to live in these conditions.”

Last July, the Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program released a report on Sequel’s Alabama facilities prompting a statewide investigation. According to reports, state agency took actions and visited facilities unannounced, “finding corrective actions were already underway.”

In an interview with NBC News, Sequel Compliance Director Marianne Birmingham, said the company has worked with Alabama officials to improve conditions at the facilities. Calls to Sequel TSI of Courtland were unanswered. 

James, who is representing Hunter C. and his adoptive mother, Patricia, said his clients want to see dramatic change across all Sequel facilities. 

“It is disgusting when our most vulnerable children are placed in these facilities and then treated like animals,” James said. “Sequel must be held accountable for what they did to Hunter and countless other children who were abused under their care. Hunter and his family hope and pray that this case leads to change in Sequel facilities across the country so that this never happens to another child.”

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