Mark Trammell Sep. 14, 2015, 11:04am

Several former residents of a Cook County residential center are suing for alleged sexual and physical abuse by the staff.

Ashley Lombardo, Mary Bohanon, Alicia Mondloch, Nikki Harris and Alicia Weathers filed suit on Sept. 9 in Cook County Circuit Court against Universal Health Services Inc., doing business as Rock River Academy & Residential Center.

According to the complaint, Rock River is a residential treatment center for adolescent females with moderate to severe emotional disabilities and was advertised to be a safe and secure environment, promising the highest level of care and individualized treatment for each of their patients. According to an investigation by the Chicago Tribune cited by the complaint, over a four-year period of time there were more than 700 reports made to the Rockford Police Department concerning alleged victimization of girls under its care, including rape, battery and sodomy.

Each of the plaintiffs were minors under the care of Rock River during various periods from 2010 to 2013, and each of them have alleged counts of systematic abuse and neglect, including but not limited to various incidents of alleged sexual abuse, battery, inappropriate touching, fondling, sexual assault, and administration of psychotropic drugs to keep them in a semi-conscious state so that they could be easily manipulated and abused by various members of the defendant's staff, the lawsuit states.

The plaintiffs allege neglect on the behalf of Rock River, failure to properly screen their staff for potential sex offenders, failure to provide proper counseling when such alleged incidents were brought to light, failure to protect their residents from such abuse or to remove them to an area in which they would be safe from it, failure to investigate said incidents properly, failure to report said incidents to the authorities, and general carelessness and neglect.

The plaintiffs seek restitution of more than $50,000 each for their mental, physical and emotional injuries, and subsequent medical and psychiatric costs in the past and future, as well as attorney fees and court costs in an amount to be determined by the court.

The plaintiffs are being represented by I. Peter Polansky of Polansky & Cichon CHTD, of Chicago.

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