More current and former students of a youth detention center in Glen Mills, PA, are coming forward with their own stories of appalling abuse.
They join the hundreds of students, each with their own shattering tales of assault, who are already suing the institution for abuse that allegedly occurred over a period of more than 40 years.
The horrors that are claimed to have occurred over the course of decades at Glen Mills reformatory school, brought to light in a February 2019 article in The Philadelphia Inquirer, have shocked audiences throughout Pennsylvania and across the United States.
If you were a victim of assault during your stay at the institution, you, too, can finally share your story without fear of being silenced or threatened. You can take legal action, including joining a Glen Mills School abuse-class action lawsuit.
Here’s what you should know about this evolving – and disturbing – news story.
What Happened at Glen Mills School?
Brutal beatings, rapes, and threats that left students fearing for their lives are among the atrocious and inexcusable instances of abuse that hundreds of students have alleged occurred in Glen Mills School abuse lawsuits.
Glen Mills Abuse
In Glen Mills School abuse lawsuits, counselors have been accused of committing vile acts of abuse, such as:
- Verbal abuse, including the use of profanity and racial slurs
- Denying students medical attention
- Pushing students into walls, doors, or appliances, or through windows
- Hitting, kicking, and stepping on students
- Sexual assaults
- Death threats
These and more assaults allegedly occurred over a period of more than 40 years. That timeframe stretches across the tenure of at least three separate executive directors (Cosimo D. Ferrainola, from 1975 through 2007; Garrison “Garry” D. Ipock, Jr., from 2007 through 2012; and Dr. Randy Ireson, from 2013 through 2019), according to Glen Mills reform school’s official website.
“I Can’t Breathe”: Glen Mills Abuse Captured on Camera
Given the horrendous treatment that allegedly occurred at Glen Mills juvenile detention center, it’s no wonder former students have reported fearing for their lives at the institution.
“I can’t breathe,” a 17-year-old student could be heard saying in an assault – caught on surveillance video – that led to two of the school’s counselors facing criminal charges in September 2018, according to NBC Philadelphia.
Glen Mills School Lawsuit FAQ
Should You File a Glen Mills School Abuse Lawsuit?
If you suffered abuse of any kind at the hands of Glen Mills School staff, then you can and should explore your legal rights and options. These options may include moving forward with a Glen Mills School lawsuit.
There’s a lot of misinformation out there that may make you think it’s not worth talking to a Glen Mills abuse lawyer. So let us clear some things up.
Generally speaking, here are some factors that shouldn’t affect your right to hold Glen Mills Schools accountable for abuse:
- Where you live now. You don’t have to be a Pennsylvania resident to hire a PA attorney and sue for abuse and assaults that occurred in the state. Law firms like ours even offer a remote intake process that allows you to complete your initial consultation over the phone and sign all documents electronically, so you don’t have to physically come into our office.
- Where you lived prior to going to Glen Mills School. Boys were sent to Glen Mills School from all over the nation. Regardless of where you resided before your stay in the institution, you have legal rights. A Pennsylvania sexual abuse attorney can help you hold the staff of the juvenile detention center accountable.
- Why you were sent to Glen Mills School. If your record isn’t spotless, you may fear that you don’t have the right to file a lawsuit. Although victim-blaming is a very real phenomenon, the reality is that a reform school is specifically intended to help at-risk youth get their lives back on track. There is never an excuse for abusing students and leaving them with trauma that will affect them for a lifetime. We stand with the former students of Glen Mills and will fight to make sure the perpetrators of abuse face the consequences.
- If you kept to yourself the horror you faced at Glen Mills. When abuse has gone on for decades and victims have been systemically threatened and coerced into silence, those victims may end up staying silent long after leaving that dangerous environment. Maybe the reason you never spoke up is because you thought no one would hear or believe you, or because it was simply too painful a topic to discuss. Waiting this long doesn’t mean that it’s too late to speak up now. For many of the men who have come forward with allegations of abuse by Glen Mills School staff, this is the first time in years that they have spoken to anyone about what happened to them in the reform school.
- Whether you have the money to afford legal representation. Lawyers have a reputation for being expensive, but hiring a lawyer for a sexual abuse claim is much different than hiring an attorney at an hourly rate or on a monthly retainer. You don’t have to pay anything upfront to have an attorney represent you in a Glen Mills school lawsuit – you will only ever pay a percentage of the compensation we eventually get for you.
One factor that might affect your rights to pursue a claim is time, so it’s essential that anyone who is considering moving forward with a Glen Mills abuse lawsuit speak to a lawyer right away.
Do I Have to Pay to Consult With an Attorney for a Glen Mills Lawsuit?
Absolutely not. The abuse that you experienced at the hands of the counselors at Glen Mills reform school was heinous and unacceptable. It would be unfair and disgraceful to impose a financial barrier to holding these people and the institution accountable.
Our Glen Mills lawsuit lawyers offer free, confidential consultations. If we’re able to assist you, you’ll pay nothing upfront for legal representation under our no-win, no-fee contingency arrangement.
Every former Glen Mills student has the right to speak to an attorney about any abuse they may have suffered. There’s no upfront cost to worry about, either to speak with a personal injury lawyer about your Glen Mills abuse claim or to move forward with a case.
Is It Too Late to Sue for Abuse at Glen Mills School?
If past abuse at Glen Mills youth detention center continues to haunt you – even years later – it may not be too late to take a stand. You were silenced back then, but you won’t be now.
Under the statute of limitations on assault matters in Pennsylvania, you may be eligible to file a Glen Mills class-action lawsuit even if the abuse occurred a long time ago.
But you need to act fast. Although Pennsylvania’s statute of limitations is less restrictive than some other states’ deadlines, this law still does limit your legal rights to hold the people who hurt you accountable. After a certain age or a certain span of time, you may be barred from pursuing a claim.
The sooner you speak to a personal injury attorney about a potential Glen Mills abuse lawsuit, the better we will be able to assist you. The initial consultation is free, confidential, convenient, and able to take place over the phone, so please don’t hesitate to talk to an attorney. You’ve suffered in silence long enough.
Why Should I Come Forward as a Victim of Glen Mills Abuse Now?
In the time that has passed since your stay at Glen Mills, you’ve been forced to live with the trauma of the abuse you experienced.
Maybe you still have nightmares or flashbacks of the violence that was perpetrated against you – a child who was victimized by the cruel adults in charge.
Perhaps you’ve had trouble making connections, maintaining relationships, holding down a job, or otherwise living your life as a result of the pain that you’ve been keeping to yourself all this time.
Or maybe you’ve managed to fool everyone else with your outward success, but inside, you still struggle with the constant reminders of what happened to you in the months or years you spent at Glen Mills.
After what you’ve been through, it’s understandable that the thought of coming forward can be terrifying. But you have so much to gain by taking action now.
Post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, and the host of consequences that abuse can have on your mental health are treatable. The compensation you receive from a Glen Mills school abuse lawsuit can help you afford the professional medical and mental health care you need to finally heal
Knowing that the people who hurt you – and so many other young men – are finally being held accountable can help you find some closure.
You can be part of the solution – the voices of the abused rising together to demand that no other child has to be victimized by this culture of violence and abuse.
Don’t let what your abusers did to you define your life going forward. Take action now by reaching out to an attorney, and take back control of your life.
What Kind of Lawyer Do I Need for a Glen Mills School Lawsuit?
To assist you with a Glen Mills mass tort or individual lawsuit, you will need an attorney with experience handling personal injury matters.
No matter where you lived before coming to the residential facility, you will need a PA sexual abuse lawyer, since the assault occurred in Pennsylvania.
Even if you’re not currently local to Pennsylvania, you can secure no-win, no-fee legal representation quickly and conveniently. Our Glen Mills lawsuit lawyers offer phone consultations and secure remote signup options for clients who live far away or who would feel more comfortable if they didn’t have to share their painful story face-to-face.
Glen Mills Lawsuit Timeline
- 1826 – The Glen Mills Schools institution was founded in Philadelphia, PA, under the name Philadelphia House of Refuge.
Despite nearly 200 years of operation and praise that brought even international students to the institution, the school had a dark secret: over decades, students were victimized in a horrifying pattern of what the Delaware County Daily Times called “systemic” abuse.
- 1892 – The institution moved to its current location in Glen Mills, Delaware County.
- 1911 – The juvenile detention center changed its name to Glen Mills Schools.
- 1976-2018 – Glen Mills students allegedly suffered heartbreaking abuse at the hands of the institution’s employees.
The earliest year that the first Glen Mills student known to have suffered abuse began attending the school was 1976 (as of September 2020). Students allege that the abuse continued at least through 2018.
That means the outrageous instances of physical, sexual, verbal, and emotional abuse that are alleged to have occurred at Glen Mills school affected multiple generations of young men. While some victims are just starting out their adult lives, bogged down by unimaginable trauma, others have spent decades tormented by the ever-present memories of the abuse they suffered.
- 1996 – A Glen Mills student from Miami notified Florida officials of abuse.
In the 1990s, Glen Mills Schools had such a prestigious reputation that other reform schools wanted to emulate the institution. When Florida officials were examining Glen Mills school in preparation for creating their own school modeled off of the institution, a student from Miami told them about being abused, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. Plans for the Florida school modeled off of Glen Mills ultimately fell through.
- 1997 – Two Glen Mills students hailing from Chicago report abuse and are removed from the institution, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
- 2017 – Multiple students report continuing abuse at Glen Mills, while counselors who attempted to intervene say they were punished.
- August-September 2018 – An assault captured on surveillance video leads to two Glen Mills counselors facing criminal charges.
- February 2019 – An article in The Philadelphia Inquirer sets off the Glen Mills investigation that ultimately leads to the school’s closure and removal of students.
- March 2019 – All students are removed from Glen Mills School under an “emergency removal” order. The First Glen Mills school lawsuit is filed.
- April 2019 – Glen Mills loses all licenses to operate.
- June 2020 – Audit finds that Glen Mills School “Failed to protect students.”
Glen Mills School Abuse 2017
The list of alleged abuse occurring in 2017 is lengthy, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.
A mother visiting a Glen Mills student uncovers abuse of her son but is pressured by staff members to remain silent. Other students report being pushed through windows, dangerously “restrained,” being beaten by groups of counselors, and receiving death threats.
Injuries reported during this timeframe include scalp wounds that had to be stapled shut and a broken jaw.
Of course, not all of the counselors perpetrated these repulsive acts of violence on the children entrusted to their care. But it seemed that those who tried to put an end to the abuse were ignored and, if they persisted, punished, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.
A ten-year employee of Glen Mills was demoted after reporting a serious assault and injury in 2017. One former employee reported to supervisors multiple instances of the alleged abuse that he personally witnessed in 2017 and into 2018, at which point he was terminated from his job.
Glen Mills School Abuse 2018
“I can’t breathe,” a Glen Mills student can be heard saying in a surveillance video from August 2018 that showed two counselors hitting and body slamming the teenager. In September 2018, the counselors were criminally charged with child endangerment, reckless endangerment, simple assault, and aggravated assault, according to NBC Philadelphia.
Although the school claimed at the time that this was an “isolated incident” and that the videotaped assault “did not uphold our stringent ethical standards and protocols,” an exposé published less than half a year later detailed years of alleged abuse at Glen Mills Schools.
Glen Mills School Abuse 2019
In 2019, the full extent of the alleged abuse came to light. It started with a piece of investigative journalism published by The Philadelphia Inquirer in February. The startling report prompted Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf to order a review and investigation of the allegations of horrific abuse.
Glen Mills School Closing
In March, the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services issued an “emergency removal” order, rescuing all students from the institution. This month also marked the first lawsuit filing against Glen Mills Schools over abuse allegations.
Glen Mills Schools was stripped of all 14 of its licenses in April 2019, with the PA Department of Human Services referencing “gross incompetence, negligence, and misconduct in operating the facility” along with the “documented instances of abuse against former students.”
Glen Mills School Abuse 2020
In a 100-page report published in June 2020, Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale detailed the numerous ways in which Glen Mills Schools “failed to protect students.”
These serious shortcomings include failing to perform background checks on staff, failing to adhere to the Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law, failing to train staff appropriately, and failing to set in place proper abuse reporting measures.
What to Know About Glen Mills School Lawsuits
What Is Glen Mills School?
Glen Mills School is a youth detention center and reformatory school that, until March 2019, served hundreds of boys between the ages of 12 and 21 each year.
The juvenile detention center had a prestigious reputation, referring to itself as “the Harvard of reform schools,” according to CBS, but former students say the institution was covering up a long history of gruesome abuse.
Where Is Glen Mills School?
Glen Mills School is located at 185 Glen Mills Road, Glen Mills, PA 19342, about 30 miles outside of Philadelphia.
Who Owns Glen Mills School?
Glen Mills School is, officially, owned by a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, according to the Delaware County Daily Times.
However, taxpayer funding has long been footing the bill for the operation of this privately-run institution, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer – with tuition costing taxpayers as much as $52,000 per year per student. Prior to being shut down, Glen Mills School saw yearly revenues in the range of $40 million, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
Is Glen Mills School Still Open?
As of September 2020, Glen Mills School is no longer open.
All students of Glen Mills detention center were evacuated under an “emergency removal” order issued by the PA Department of Human Services in March 2019. The institution was subsequently stripped of its licenses in April 2019.
Will Glen Mills School Reopen?
Since March 2019, the campus has remained empty of students. In fact, in March 2020, the unused campus was converted to a “coronavirus command center,” according to the Times of Delaware County.
Will Glen Mills reopen? It depends on who you ask.
Christopher Spriggs, a Glen Mills Schools teacher since 1994 who was named acting executive director of the closed school in June 2019, has spoken of the challenges of reopening the school and efforts to bring the school into compliance, according to WHYY.
However, plaintiffs have expressed hopes that the school will not be allowed to reopen and fear that, if reopened, the school would return to the culture of violence, abuse, and intimidation that underlies the allegations.
Glen Mills News: Investigations, Lost Licenses, and Litigation
- Glen Mills leaders broke child-abuse law, state auditor finds – The Philadelphia Inquirer, June 24, 2020
- Glen Mills Litigation Over Abuse Allegations Is Consolidated Into Mass Tort – Law.com, June 16, 2020
- Glen Mills hit with five new lawsuits charging brutal abuse – The Times of Delaware County, January 30, 2020
- ‘I Went into This Dark Shell’: 2 Men Recount Beatings, Sexual Assaults at School – NBC Philadelphia, January 29, 2020
- ‘House Of Horrors’: Former Glen Mills Schools Students Claim In New Lawsuits They Were Sexually, Physically Abused By Staff – CBS News, January 29, 2020
- More lawsuits filed against nation’s oldest reform school – AP News, January 29, 2020
- Glen Mills faces more than a dozen lawsuits, alleging beatings and sexual abuse – The Philadelphia Inquirer, January 29, 2020
- Glen Mills, the school shut down by Pa. for student abuse, appoints interim executive director – WHYY, December 2019
- Ex-students sue, alleging abuse at oldest US reform school – AP News, April 11, 2019
- Oldest US reform school’s license revoked over abuse claims – AP News, April 8, 2019
- Glen Mills School Files Appeal To Stay Open After Abuse Allegations, Says It’s ‘The Harvard Of Reform Schools’ – CBS Philly, April 4, 2019
- Reform school to lay off about 250 amid abuse investigations — AP News, April 2, 2019
- “Families file suit against Glen Mills Schools in abuse flap” – Garnet Valley Press, April 1, 2019
- “Glen Mills hit with federal lawsuit by former students alleging abuse” – Philadelphia Inquirer, March 28, 2019
- ‘Emergency removal’ of children from reform school ordered – AP News, March 25, 2019
- Gov. orders review of reform school over abuse allegations – AP News, March 7, 2019
- At Glen Mills Schools, boys are beaten, then silenced — The Philadelphia Inquirer, February 2019
- ‘I Can’t Breathe’: Counselors Face Assault Charges for Attack on At-Risk Student, NBC Philadelphia, September 7, 2018
- Philadelphia agency probes reform school over alleged abuse – AP News, August 31, 2018.