Sexual Assault at Evolutions Treatment Center Was Preventable, Lawsuit Claims | New Times Broward-Palm Beach

Lawsuits

Man Claims He Was Sexually Assaulted by Roommates at Fort Lauderdale Addiction Center

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In a recently filed lawsuit, a former patient of a South Florida addiction recovery center says two of his roommates at the facility "kicked, punched, and spat on him” before sexually assaulting him in his room.

The 23-year-old sued Evolutions Treatments Center on counts of negligence and negligent security, claiming its staff did not take action to prevent the assault despite his warnings that he was being threatened with violence.

Prior the assault, when the plaintiff told the clinical director that he was scared of his roommates, she advised him "to use coping skills and deep breathing," he claims.

According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff began living at Evolutions' Fort Lauderdale facility in September 2019 and was housed with five other men. He says he raised concerns to staff over the two unhinged roommates' behavior, which included bullying, harassment, and threats of violence. One of the roommates involved in the assault had told the man in a group meeting that he was "going to smack the shit out of" him, the lawsuit alleges.

"Had [the] staff reacted to plaintiff's multiple complaints, the traumatic events would have been prevented," the lawsuit states. "This physical and sexual assault was foreseeable and preventable given the ample notice defendant had of plaintiff's concerns about his attackers."

The alleged assault occurred on December 18, three months into the man's stay. The lawsuit alleges that when the victim entered his bedroom, the two roommates "emerged from hiding behind the door," and said, "What's up, motherfucker?" They accused him of stealing a battery charger and boxers before commencing the assault, the plaintiff says.

The pair grabbed the victim, held him down in a headlock, and kicked and punched him until his face starting bleeding, the lawsuit states. The complaint says the men then pulled the man's pants down, "slapped his buttocks, grabbed a long pipe-like object... and penetrated [his] rectum for at least one to two minutes."

A third roommate allegedly watched the assault from his bed and did not intervene. The plaintiff claims no one came to his aid while he was "screaming at the top of his lungs and begging for the assault to stop."

The plaintiff received treatment at Broward General Hospital before being to transferred to Broward County's Nancy J. Cotterman Sexual Assault Treatment Center. The facility's report indicated the man had "pain to his face and anal canal, bruising to [his] face on bilateral cheeks and nose," and bruises and abrasions on his body including a laceration on his anus, according to the court documents.

One witness allegedly told the Fort Lauderdale Police Department that one of the assailants said he was going to "'beat the fuck of out of' and 'rape' [the] plaintiff" about ten minutes prior to the assault. Another witness said he heard the victim's screams and assumed he was being assaulted, according to the complaint.

TLC Recovery Center of South Florida, doing business as Evolutions Treatment Center, did not respond to New Times' requests for comment.

Evolutions, founded in 2013, has an inpatient facility in Miami, an outpatient center in Lauderdale by the Sea, in addition to its facility in Fort Lauderdale, according to Evolutions' website. The company provides addiction rehabilitation services and mental health treatment.

Three other former patients previously sued Evolutions over alleged incidents of sexual misconduct and assault.

In November 2021, two women sued the substance abuse treatment center, alleging that a behavioral health technician sexually abused them during their stints at a Broward County Evolutions facility in 2017. One woman said the technician took advantage of his position as her caretaker to sexually abuse her repeatedly over the course of her stay. One of lawsuits alleges that a therapist knew about the technician's "predatory" behavior but failed to stop him.

Another woman filed a lawsuit against the company this past July with allegations that she was sexually assaulted at the facility in Miami in March 2021.
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Naomi Feinstein is a summer intern for Miami New Times. She is a rising junior at the University of Miami, where she is double-majoring in journalism and political science. She is also the senior editor of the UM student newspaper, The Miami Hurricane.
Contact: Naomi Feinstein

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