Police investigating alleged sexual assault of child at NN Behavioral Health Center

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Newport News Behavioral Health Center (WAVY PHOTO)

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — Police are investigating an allegation of a sexual assault at the Newport News Behavioral Health Center.

The Newport News Police Department confirmed on Wednesday that a detective from their Special Victims Unit is investigating the incident, which allegedly happened on Feb. 21 and Feb. 22 at the mental health facility. No charges have been filed at this time.

10 On Your Side spoke the alleged victim’s mother. She says her daughter is 9 years old and was assaulted by another juvenile patient. The mother says her daughter voluntarily checked in to the Newport News Behavioral Health Center on Feb. 20. She was seeking help for PTSD.

The Newport News Behavioral Health Center is a residential mental health treatment facility for children and adolescents. The facility uses a “cognitive behavior treatment model,” which can include therapy, substance abuse treatment, and 24-hour nursing care, according to its website.

10 On Your Side first began investigating the Newport News Behavioral Health Center in July 2018 after 17-year-old Raven Keffer died while in the facility’s care.

10 On Your Side spoke with a former behavioral health staff member in August 2018. That staffer said that Raven complained that she was sick in the days leading up to her death, but her pleas for help were ignored by staff.

The staff member’s account of Raven’s death was backed up by the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health. Their investigation found that the Newport News Behavioral Health Center violated more than a dozen standards of care in Raven’s death, including depriving her of appropriate services and treatment, failing to document her significant medical concerns, and failing to note her health complaints.

Raven’s sister, Haley Keffer, filed a $20 million lawsuit against the facility and its parent company, Universal Health Services, in January. The suit claims the center knew Raven’s medical history before she arrived, and that the facility was “legally bound” to protect her.

Another teenager died in 2019 after escaping from the Newport News Behavioral Health Center. Aaron Groom, 16, escaped from the facility on March 23, 2019 after allegedly attacking and robbing one of its staff members. He died after he was hit by a train in Chesterfield on May 8, 2019.

10 On Your Side has reached out to the Newport News Behavioral Health Center and the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health for comment about the investigation. We did not receive comment before publication.


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