GREENWOOD, Ind. — The mother of a daughter who was allegedly abused by a former employee at the Hopebridge Autism Therapy Center in Greenwood has filed a civil lawsuit in Marion County Circuit/Superior Court against the former employee as well as the center.
According to court documents filed late Thursday, Shella Harris filed a lawsuit against the center and the former employee individually and on behalf of her daughter, who she claims was abused by Leomeir Kennedy, a behavior technician who was employed by the Hopebridge Autism Therapy Center in Greenwood. Officials with the center said Kennedy was fired from his position in April.
Kennedy was charged in April with one count of child molesting, fondling or touching a child under 14, a Level 4 felony, and one count of possession of child pornography, a Level 5 felony. According to previous reports, he allegedly confessed to molesting three children, two of which were patients at a therapy center for children with autism.
Kennedy has not been convicted of any charges as of Friday. A jury trial is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. on July 31.
The lawsuit claims that Hopebridge was “careless and negligent” by failing to protect Harris’ daughter from “sexual, physical, emotional and psychological abuse” and failing to control and supervise Kennedy as one of the center’s employees. The lawsuit also claims that Hopebridge did not have an appropriate amount of staff to supervise the premises, which caused the abuse to happen, and that the center failed to appropriately respond to the sexual abuse.
Specifically related to Kennedy’s alleged actions, the lawsuit claims that Kennedy was “careless and negligent” by sexually, physically, emotionally and psychologically abusing the child.
“As a direct and proximate result of the negligence and/or carelessness of Defendants, Leomeir Kennedy and Hopebridge, (the daughter) suffered serious and permanent injuries, incurred medical expenses, suffered pain and mental anguish, suffered psychological and emotional damage, incurred legal expenses, lost educational opportunities, lost enjoyment of life and will continue to suffer such damages in the future.”
The lawsuit also claims that Harris, as the mother, suffered from “negligent infliction of emotional distress past, present and future.”
Through the lawsuit, the plaintiffs are asking for judgment in an amount “that will fairly compensate (them) for (the defendants’) injuries and damages, the costs of this action, for interest as allowed by law and all other relief that is just and proper in the premises.”
FOX59/CBS4 has reached out to the Hopebridge Autism Therapy Center in Greenwood for comment surrounding this civil suit. In a statement, officials from the center said:
Protecting the safety and welfare of our patients, visitors, and staff is always our main priority and has been at the core of who we are for over 17 years. At this time, we will not be able to comment further.Officials with the Hopebridge Autism Therapy Center