Former Miracle Meadows School students settle for record $51.9 million

Published: Nov. 13, 2020 at 6:47 PM EST
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SALEM, W.Va (WDTV) - The Christian boarding school founded in 1987 that was anything but a miracle, according to attorneys working the case.

Attorneys tell five news some of the abuse included students being chained to beds - sexually assaulted or beaten.

Some of the victims were locked in isolation rooms for weeks according to attorneys.

In the words of attorney Jesse Forbes, “It was unreal, they couldn’t believe it was happening in Harrison County, West Virginia.”

Years of horrific abuse and torture by staff members went on for decades. It’s co-founder Susan Clark was convicted of child neglect.

“The handcuffing, the beating, raping them, stripping them naked and putting them in these isolation rooms for weeks on end...It doesn’t make any sense,” said Forbes.

A culture of secrecy festered but one of Forbe’s clients who was a student at the time found a way get help.

Her lawyers tell me she drank a cleaning product knowing she would get sick, and require medical attention.

In 2014, this led to the school being shut down.

“The staff tried to get her to regurgitate the cleaning product which she refused to do. The staff had been trained to not allow students be alone with these doctors because of the questions that might be asked," said Forbes.

"She forced herself to get alone with the doctor and that’s who called child protective services. That one client sort of rescued all the other kids and is really a hero,” Forbes continued.

Lead attorney working the case Guy D’andrea says this settlement will finally bring justice to these innocent children, now adults.

“The financial piece to it is significant because it will allow these young adults who basically had any potential future stripped and ripped away from them by this facility to start fresh," said D’andrea.

For the survivors - now everyone knows they were telling the truth.

“Each one of them when you talk to them really feels now, they’ve spent years being told they were liars,” said Forbes.

Clark was sentenced to six months in jail and five years of probation. The settlement will be distributed to the victims as early as right after the new year.

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