Hundreds to sue Glen Mills over abuse
There is nothing to stop Bermudians who were harmed at a harsh reform school in Pennsylvania from suing for damages, according to a personal injury lawyer in the United States.
Stewart Eisenberg, of Eisenberg, Rothweiler, Winkler, Eisenberg & Jeck law firm in Philadelphia, told The Royal Gazette yesterday that boys who were sent to Glen Mills Schools from Bermuda over a period of more than 30 years could pursue legal action, even as non-US citizens.
“They would be able to,” he said.
Mr Eisenberg confirmed a report in The Legal Intelligencer on Wednesday, which said his firm had 360 clients preparing to file suit for damages against Glen Mills, a borstal about 30 miles outside Philadelphia, which was shut down last year because of the mistreatment and abuse of children.
“We have met with a handful of them and we have information about each and every one of them,” he said.
None of those clients are from Bermuda.
Fifteen civil lawsuits have been filed against the school since it closed.
Mr Eisenberg said the statute of limitations for such claims was two years in most cases.
However, he added that historic cases involving Glen Mills may be able to proceed because of a recent precedent of “false concealment” — when newly discovered information comes to light, which the plaintiff could not have known about before the statute of limitations expired.
The lawyer said that his firm would use a report in The Philadelphia Inquirer in February last year, which exposed the abuse at Glen Mills and alleged attempts to cover it up, as the start date for a lot of the claims.
He said the two-year statute of limitations would also not apply where clients were either under the age of 30 and were sexually abused, or were under the age of 20.
The Bermuda Government recently refused to disclose under public access to information how many boys from Bermuda were sent to Glen Mills or whether any complained of mistreatment.
The refusal is the subject of an ongoing review by the Information Commissioner.
Two Bermudian men who suffered abuse at the school as teenagers shared their stories publicly in June last year, telling how they were beaten and humiliated by teachers, with one alleging he would lie in bed at night hearing students raping other children.
A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Legal Affairs, which is responsible for the DCFS, said at the time: “The Department of Child and Family Services and the Ministry of Legal Affairs are deeply concerned with the allegations being raised through the media.
“We condemn any actions that would harm a child physically or emotionally. We encourage those individuals to come forward and file a formal complaint, to enable a proper investigation to occur.”
The spokeswoman previously said in April last year: “DCFS has not received any information related to any children sent to Glen Mills being abused or mistreated.”
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