Lawyer Asks For Class-Action Status In Nebraska Institution Abuse
March 30, 2005
LINCOLN, NEBRASKA--A lawyer representing 16 women who claimed to have been sexually abused or assaulted while patients in Nebraska's psychiatric institutions has asked a federal court to turn the case into a class-action lawsuit.
Bruce G. Mason made the request earlier in the month after he reviewed state records showing that more than 100 women have been physically assaulted, raped, sexually assaulted, harassed or exploited from 2000 to 2004 while housed at Norfolk Regional Center, Lincoln Regional Center and Hastings Regional Center.
"There isn't any sense that they're dealing with this," Mason told the Omaha World-Herald on Tuesday. "It's simply the dirty little secret of institutions."
Mason filed the civil rights suit in 2002 after former patients at Lincoln Regional Center alleged that an employee sexually assaulted them. Mason claims that the state has violated its own promise to provide better supervision of patients as part of an agreement to settle a 1995 lawsuit. Four women had sued the state after they accused a Hastings staff member of raping them.
"Hundreds of sexual assaults at state mental hospitals, lawyer says" (Omaha World-Herald)