A nine-year-old's family is suing West Palm Hospital after they say the boy was sexually molested by a mental health counselor.
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WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - The family of a 9-year-old is suing West Palm Hospital after they say the boy was sexually molested by a mental health counselor. A charge the hospital vehemently denies.
West Palm Beach police say there is an open investigation.
The employee has not been charged, but there is a police report filed in regard to the alleged May incident.
“We were violated by the people we trusted to protect him,” the boy’s mother said alongside her attorney Jeff Herman.
According to the report, the nine-year-old says the counselor inappropriately touched him after he got out of the shower.
The family says the boy was receiving treatment under the Baker Act because he suffers from depression.
“One of the things the family is concerned about is there could be other victims and this guy was working at a hospital with a very vulnerable population,” attorney Jeff Herman said.
Herman says they are also concerned because they say the health counselor was arrested in 2005 after police say he exposed himself to an undercover police officer in Lake Worth.
The charge was later dropped.
“We wonder how many other kids are out there who have no one to speak up for them,” the boy’s mother said. She did not want to be identified.
WPTV is not identifying the counselor because he has not been charged.
A hospital spokeswoman initially told WPTV she could not comment citing patient confidentiality laws. However, a vice president for marketing for the HCA East Florida Division later released this statement:
"The allegations being made against West Palm Hospital are false. These allegations were thoroughly investigated by two external agencies, and the allegations were unsubstantiated. First and foremost our staff, physicians and employees are committed to patient safety and quality of care. As a general matter, we run background checks on employees before we hire them and go through a rigorous screening process. If any allegations of this nature are ever made to us, we take all necessary and appropriate actions, including notifying the appropriate authorities. We are proud of our West Palm Hospital employees who have dedicated their professional lives to caring for others, and we remain focused on providing the best care possible to our patients."
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