On Monday, December 17, the former leader of a Lakewood group home for at-risk youth was arraigned on several charges related to child sexual abuse. 56-year-old William Sexton has been charged with eight felonies and one misdemeanor in connection with the alleged abuse.
These charges cover two separate but related cases and include:
Sexton was initially arrested in October and accused of sexually abusing two alleged victims from the Bridgeway House, a home for at-risk teens run by a company called Savio House. Since that story broke, an additional five alleged victims, all teenage boys, have come forward with allegations of sexual abuse by Sexton.
According to a report by FOX31 Denver, the Colorado State Department of Human Services repeatedly failed to adequately address early complaints of sexual misconduct by Sexton. The station obtained records from Colorado's computer child abuse tracking system and discovered several complaints about Sexton's behavior towards teens at the group home, dating back to 2015.
In October 2015, a residential tenant at the Bridgeway House told state investigators that Sexton drank vodka, or what he called "grandpa juice", with the youth under his care and that Sexton would frequently make inappropriate sexual comments while drunk. A CDHS child welfare investigation ruled this complaint unfounded.
In August 2016, a Bridgeway youth tenant told investigators that he was taking a shower and found a hidden camera in the bathroom. The state also ruled these allegations unfounded.
In 2017, another Bridgeway juvenile reported that "Bill had been playing with (blank's) stuff while (blank) was asleep and this has been going on for a while."
According to FOX31, internal files from the CDHS show at least six sexual-related complaints were filed against Sexton and investigated by state social services over a three-year period beginning in 2015 However, Sexton continued to be in charge of youth at the Bridgeway House until June 29, 2018 - the date that the CDHS realized that Sexton would soon be arrested for sexual assault on a child.
Attorney contributor Dan Lipman helps survivors of child sexual abuse find justice and support in civil court. We've asked him to share some insight into the legal options available to those who have been sexually abused in youth group homes:
Cases of child sexual abuse often involve abusers who are in positions of authority and vulnerable victims. We regularly see this in cases involving teachers, coaches, group home leaders, religious leaders, etc. The victims of sexual abuse by authority figures deserve justice and it's critical to make sure these victims get all of the support they need. Along with prosecuting the perpetrator, third parties (such as a group home) can also be held liable if their negligence allowed the abuse to occur.
For example, a group home might be considered negligent for the abuse of residents if previous allegations of sexual misconduct were ignored. In those cases which involve negligence, the victims and their families may have grounds for a lawsuit.
If you or someone you love has been sexually abused in a youth group home, you can find justice for the trauma you've suffered. Consider speaking to an experienced sex abuse victims attorney to learn more about your family's legal rights.