A former employee of Aldersgate Enrichment Center in Early, Texas has been charged with sexually assaulting two residents with mental disabilities. 33-year-old Marshall Thornhill faces two indictments for aggravated sexual assault. The two indictments allege five counts of aggravated sexual assault.
Thornhill was formerly employed as Aldersgate's director of development and resigned from this position after the allegations surfaced.
The sheriff's office says that a parent of a female resident contacted sheriff's officials on September 20, 2019, to report that her mentally disabled daughter was sexually abused at Aldersgate. According to the parent, her daughter reported that Thornhill had sexual contact with her on multiple occasions.
During their investigation into this first allegation, officials discovered evidence that a second mentally disabled resident may have been sexually assaulted by Thornhill.
These allegations were presented to a Brown County Grand Jury on January 23 and the panel returned two indictments.
Attorney contributor Marc Lenahan is an experienced sex abuse victims lawyer who represents victims and their families in civil lawsuits. We've asked Marc to share some of his knowledge on the legal rights of those who have been sexually abused at facilities for the mentally disabled:
In facilities that cater towards people with mental disabilities, the safety of residents is paramount. These residents are in vulnerable positions because of their disabilities and there is a high risk for abuse. Preventative measures must be in place in order to reduce this risk as much as possible.
When an employee is charged with sexually abusing a resident, it's important to investigate both the employee and the facility itself. If the facility failed to protect its residents due to negligence, the victim and their family could have grounds for a lawsuit. For example, a facility for the mentally disabled could be considered negligent for failing to have safeguards in place to protect residents.
If you or a loved one is a victim of sexual abuse at a facility for the mentally disabled, you can learn more about your legal rights in a free consultation with one of our experienced sex abuse victims lawyers.