Nicholas Alahverdian tells his journey of kid-dumping

From The Providence Journal Archives, Nicholas Alahverdian tells his story of woe and despair as a child. Little did he know, less than a year later he would be sent hundreds of miles away to two abusive facilities with grand jury indictments issued against them and long track records of abuse where he would be tortured and beaten until his 18th birthday as a result of this article and other media coverage, as well as his political activism as a lobbyist.

Nicholas Alahverdian RI
Nicholas Alahverdian as a young man

As Nicholas Alahverdian and I talked, he took in the view of the Rhode Island State House from The Providence Journal cafeteria. “You don’t know how much I love going in that building,” he says.

Nicholas Alahverdian loves the excitement of it, the reporters and the politicians. He’s been part of it. He’s worked for state representatives Beatrice Lanzi and Gordon Fox. He’s testified at hearings. He wants to be a politician. And a lawyer. And a journalist.

Don’t bet against him hitting the career trifecta. He’s already been tested in ways few of us will ever know. “I don’t think I’ve been harmed at all,” he says. “I think it’s all part of a plan that’s been assigned to me for upcoming events.”

Nicholas Alahverdian talks about the dark, uncertain part of his life as “boot camp.” It has taught him things and prepared him. He’s 15, smart and articulate and almost painfully polite. He introduces himself with a handshake. He even said it was an honor to meet some of the people here at The Journal. He reads the newspaper. When he opens his backpack, a copy of David McCulloch’s biography of John Adams is the first thing he takes out.

He speaks from the other side of a lot of hard, cold statistics. Nicholas Alahverdian is a kid caught in a cruel social shuffle that has left him with a heavy load of uncertainty when he desperately needs something solid and reliable. His insistence on being all that he can be is remarkable.

In the best of all worlds, Nicholas Alahverdian says, he would be living at home with his mother and stepfather, brother and sister. But that isn’t going to happen. His mother and stepfather have broken up. There is a restraining order. There is some tension with his brother who has emotional swings that have made it necessary to put some distance between him and the family home in Cranston.

After we talked Thursday afternoon, Nicholas Alahverdian headed for the bus stop and a ride to his latest group home in Providence. At a time when he should have no concerns more pressing than homework and maybe the girl who sits two rows over in his Spanish class, he is forced to live his life in bits and pieces, never knowing how long he will be living or going to school in the same place.

There was a point in Nicholas Alahverdian’s nomadic life, when the Rhode Island social service system put him in a foster home in North Smithfield. It was probably the best experience he’s had, the closest he’s come to his ideal of home and family.

“I can’t tell you how loving this family was – how they accepted me into their home. They were so caring.” He stayed there for two days. That’s all he was scheduled for. Then he went home to his real family for the Christmas holidays at the end of 1999. Then he returned to a shelter in Woonsocket. “It was decent for someone my age,” he says of the shelter. “There were caring people there. There were activities set up for us each night.”

As we talk, he sorts through a stack of notes he’s taken on his life so far. There are also copies of psychiatric evaluations, school grades and newspaper stories I wrote about his stepfather, a popular local performer.

It is amazing how matter-of-fact he is about it, as if every 15-year-old goes through this kind of jolting, disjointed life in which faceless people are making the calls on where he will live and where he will learn. He sorts through his papers, tells his stories and provides a stunning personal voice for all the stories about kids in Rhode Island who get moved around like pieces on a real-life board game.

Nicholas Alahverdian has been in night-to-night placement under the Department of Children Youth and Families (DCYF). It is often little more than a couch to sleep on for the night, followed by a day of wondering where the next couch will be.

“It’s scary — ridiculously scary,” he says. “There are punks in there, they took my sneakers, my clothing. I was threatened, assaulted. I saw kids hit each other with hockey sticks.

“You wake up in the morning at 5:30 and you go the DCYF building and wait to see where you’re going to go the next night. You’re not in school and I love school. You’re not associating with friends. You’re not treated decently. And how can your parents know where you are?”

In one sense, he knows it has to be this way. In another, he rails against the injustice of it and the self-defeating madness of dumping kids in often strange and frightening places.

The list of his stops on what seems a journey with no real destination is daunting. It winds through Coventry, Woonsocket, North Providence, Cranston, Providence, Narragansett and points in between. He has be en to Bradley Hospital and to a group home on the campus of Butler Hospital. He has been to a bunch of schools, some of which insulted his intelligence with course work and materials geared to children 5 or 6 years younger. He remembers being assigned the book The Pokey Little Puppy when it seemed like something from his distant past.

Nicholas Alahverdian once addressed the Cranston School Committee on how he felt he was being unfairly judged on his past in his classroom assignment. Now, he is attending Hope High School where he’s on the debate team. He’s living in a group home in Providence which he considers one of the better ones he’s been in. “It’s like a challenge at Hope,” he says, “a challenge to help yourself learn.”

And through it all, he remains this delightful survivor who seems to have held on to a real sense of who he is and what he wants to be, despite the efforts of the state of Rhode Island to keep him forever on the move.

There is a great temptation to listen to his story and thoroughly enjoy his company and then ask him something like “How the hell have you gotten through all this with so much hope and determination?”

We’ll hear from Nicholas Alahverdian somewhere down the road. He says all that training he received in his own personal “boot camp” has gotten him ready. It’s gotten him ready for war.

“It’s a war with people who are trying to destroy kids’ lives,” says my new friend Nicholas Alahverdian.

November 2002

Nicholas Alahverdian RI | Boston Globe Coverage

Nicholas Alahverdian RI, Boston GlobeJune 27, 2011

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Nicholas Alahverdian, plaintiff in a lawsuit against the Rhode island Department of Children, Youth and Families on allegations he was abused as a teenager while in state care says he’s getting ready for the first important court hearing in his case.

United States District Court Judge John J. McConnell is holding an in-chambers hearing in Providence on Monday morning in Nicholas Alahverdian’s case.

Nicholas Alahverdian alleges that during a 3-year period beginning in March 2002 he was placed in a series of temporary shelters around the state followed by two out-of-state residential facilities where he was repeatedly assaulted, physically and sexually, by employees and clients.

Nicholas Alahverdian was also denied any communication with the courts, lawyers, or his elected officials to inform them of the torture.

Nicholas Alahverdian was 14 at the time and worked as a page and legislative aide for the state House of Representatives.

Nicholas Alahverdian v. State of Rhode Island

Nicholas Alahverdian, RI, State of Rhode Island
RI State House

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

DISTRICT OF RHODE ISLAND

NICHOLAS ALAHVERDIAN V. RHODE ISLAND DCYF

Plaintiff Nicholas Alahverdian resides in Rhode Island.

Click here for the PDF version

DEFENDANTS

Defendant Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth, and Families (hereinafter referred to as “DCYF”) was intrinsically and constitutionally responsible for ensuring the protection, safety, and well-being of Plaintiff at all times relevant to this complaint. DCYF is responsible for all child protective services, child welfare services, and child placement services in the State of Rhode Island. Pursuant to section 42-72-1 of the Rhode Island General Laws, DCYF and its director are to assure that all programs and services operate in conformity with constitutional, statutory, and regulatory requirements. The main office is located at 101 Friendship Street Providence, Rhode Island 02903.

Defendant State of Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services was responsible for the protection, safety, and well-being of Plaintiff while he was at Boys Town and Boys Town Residential Treatment Center. DHHS maintains its main office at 301 Centennial Mall South Lincoln, Nebraska.

Defendant Father Flanagan’s Boys’ Home, d/b/a Boys Town, also known as Boys Town Residential Treatment Center, is a Nebraska-based organization located in Boys Town, Nebraska.

Defendant Family Resources Community Action is a Woonsocket-based organization with its main office located at 245 Main Street Woonsocket, Rhode Island.

Defendant Jammat Housing and Community Development Corp. d/b/a Turning the Corner a.k.a Muslim Boys Management is a Providence-based organization located at 801 Elmwood Avenue Providence, Rhode Island.

Defendant Communities for People, Inc. is an organization based in Boston with its main office located at 418 Commonwealth Avenue Boston, Massachusetts.

Defendant Community Solutions, Inc. is an organization based in Connecticut with its main office located at 4 Griffin Road North Suite 1008 Windsor, Connecticut.

Defendant Donald L. Carcieri was Governor of Rhode Island at all times relative to incidents in this complaint. He is sued individually and in his official capacity.

Defendant Jeremiah S. Jeremiah was Chief Judge of the Family Court at all times relative to incidents in this complaint. He is sued individually and in his official capacity.

Defendant Jay G. Lindgren was Director of DCYF for a portion of the time relative to incidents in this complaint. He is sued individually and in his official capacity.

Defendant Thomas L. Dwyer was the assistant director of DCYF for a portion of the time relative to incidents in this complaint. He is sued individually and in his official capacity.

Defendant Jorge Garcia was the assistant director of DCYF for a portion of the time relative to incidents in this complaint. He is sued individually and in his official capacity.

Defendant Patricia Martinez was Director of DCYF for a portion of the time relative to incidents in this complaint. She is sued individually and in her official capacity.

Defendant Kevin Aucoin, JD, was chief legal counsel for DCYF at all times relevant to incidents listed in this complaint. He is sued individually and in his official capacity.

Defendant Michael S. Burk (a/k/a Mike Burk of Tiverton, RI) was legislative liaison and assistant to the director of DCYF at all times relevant to incidents listed in this complaint. He is sued individually and in his official capacity.

Defendant Linda Essex was an administrator at DCYF at all times relevant to incidents listed in this complaint. She is sued individually and in her official capacity.

Defendant Kathleen A. Letourneau was an administrator at DCYF at all times relevant to incidents listed in this complaint. She is sued individually and in her official capacity.

Defendant Ronald Razza was a supervisor at DCYF at all times relevant to incidents listed in this complaint. He is sued individually and in his official capacity.

Defendant Ellen Balasco, JD, was a staff attorney in the Rhode Island office of the Court Appointed Special Advocate at all times relevant to incidents listed in this complaint. She is sued individually and in her official capacity.

Defendant Rev. Valentine J. Peter (a/k/a Val J. Peter) (a/k/a Val Peter) was chief executive officer at Father Flanagan’s Boys’ Home at all times relevant to incidents listed in this complaint.

Defendant Matthew Peter (a/k/a Matt Peter) was a therapist at Boys Town Residential Treatment Center at all times relevant to incidents listed in this complaint.

Defendant Katherine Dinges was director of the Boys Town Residential Treatment Center at all times relevant to incidents listed in this complaint.

Defendant Daniel L. Daly, PhD was assistant director at Father Flanagan’s Boys’ Home at all times relevant to incidents listed in this complaint.

Defendant Douglas Spellman, MD, was medical director at Boys Town Residential Treatment Center at all times relevant to incidents listed in this complaint.

JURISDICTION AND VENUE

This Honorable Court has jurisdiction over this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1343. This action is also brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 to redress violations of the United States Constitution, the Constitution of the State of Rhode Island, federal statuary entitlements, state statuary entitlements, and common law.

Venue is proper here pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b). The claims arise in this district.

In addition, this Honorable Court has supplemental jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1367 over any claims based upon state law.

FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS

In the year 2002, Plaintiff Nicholas Alahverdian was employed by the Rhode Island House of Representatives as a Page and a Legislative Aide.

Simultaneously, Plaintiff was in the care of Defendant Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth and Families (hereinafter referred to as “DCYF”) due to his inept and alcoholic parents.

Plaintiff Nicholas Alahverdian began to be placed in different temporary shelters under DCYF’s night-to-night program. DCYF had institutionalized a practice of placing children in its custody in night-to-night placement in violation of the Plaintiff’s constitutional rights to be free from harm and enjoy equal protection of the law. Night-to-night placement is the practice of placing a child, for any length of time, in a DCYF placement facility; congregate care facility; or foster home, which is utilized as an “emergency shelter equivalent placement” as defined by DCYF policy Number 700.0140; or any other facility and/or placement for a reason other than its intended purpose. Defendant’s failure to provide the preventive services mandated by Sections 627 and 671(a)(15) of the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act deprived Plaintiff of the privileges and immunities secured by United States laws.

From March 2002 through June 2003, Plaintiff Nicholas Alahverdian constantly and repetitively experienced physical and sexual assault upon his person at temporary shelters operated by Defendants Family Resources, Jammat, Communities for People, and Community Solutions. These assaults were perpetrated by employees and clients of the temporary shelters under DCYF’s night-to-night program.

State legislators Speaker John Harwood, Rep. William Murphy, Rep. Gordon Fox, Rep. Paul Moura, Rep. Anastasia Williams, Rep. René Menard, Rep. Joanne Giannini, Rep. Eileen Naughton, Rep. Paul V. Sherlock, Rep. David N. Cicilline, Rep. Thomas Slater, Rep. Scott Guthrie, Rep. Carol Mumford, Rep. Peter Kilmartin, Rep. Peter Palumbo, Rep. Brian Coogan, and Rep. Frank Montanaro, among others, and legislative staff including Frank Anzeveno and Nadine Frazier noticed the wounds and heard the stories of the nightly terror that ensued in the night-to-night shelters.

Plaintiff took a leave of absence from his employment with the Rhode Island House of Representatives and began to lobby for safer DCYF placements and other issues.

Plaintiff Nicholas Alahverdian appeared in a Providence Journal photo essay with Rep. Paul Moura, Sen. John Tassoni, and Rep. Frank Montanaro, at which point Defendant Lindgren sent emails that ridiculed the appearance. Emails were seen by Rep. Gordon Fox and Rep. Steven Costantino.

Plaintiff Nicholas Alahverdian appeared in an article in The Providence Journal published in 2002 that unfavorably reviewed Defendant DCYF’s night-to-night program.

Defendant Burk unsuccessfully attempted to persuade the House Majority Whip Rep. René Menard to instruct Plaintiff to stay away from the State House because the negative publicity being directed at DCYF as a result of Plaintiff’s lobbying efforts was detrimental to the acquisition of the discovery of a safe placement for the Plaintiff.

Several emails blasting the lobbying activities of Plaintiff Nicholas Alahverdian were sent from Defendant Lindgren. These emails were reviewed by state legislators Rep. Gordon Fox, Rep. Paul Moura, and Rep. Steven Costantino.

Defendant Carcieri was approached by plaintiff at a campaign event at Providence College when Defendant Carcieri was running for Governor. Defendant Carcieri was made aware of the torture and assaults occurring in DCYF placements. Defendant Carcieri committed to eliminating abuse and negligence if elected Governor. Defendant Carcieri reported no abuse and/or neglect to any state agencies.

Defendants Lindgren, Dwyer, Aucoin, Burk, and Garcia were approached by Plaintiff, who advised that DCYF shelters and group homes were unsafe and that assaultive behavior and torture was a regularity. Defendants Lindgren, Dwyer, Aucoin, Burk, and Garcia failed to report any abuse and/or neglect, repetitively placed Plaintiff in facilities previously indicated as abusive and/or negligent, and failed to correct the situation.

Defendant Balasco was approached by Plaintiff with regards to the abuse and negligence ensuing in DCYF placements. Defendant Balasco did not report torture, abuse and/or negligence, nor did she advocate for a safer placement for Plaintiff. Defendant failed to advocate for or act in the best interests of her client, the Plaintiff.

Defendants Lindgren, Dwyer, Aucoin, Burk, Garcia, Family Resources, Jammat, Jeremiah, Communities for People, and Community Solutions were repetitively asked by Plaintiff to allow Plaintiff to receive a free and appropriate education. Plaintiff was denied access to receive a free and appropriate education.

Defendants Jeremiah, Lindgren, Dwyer, and Carcieri were continually approached by Plaintiff, who requested a safe, permanent placement, free of assault, negligence, negligent hiring, and any other unethical or unlawful conduct. Defendants failed to report torture, abuse and/or negligence, and failed to ensure a safe, permanent placement free of torture, assault, negligence, negligent hiring, and any other unethical or unlawful conduct.

Defendant Jeremiah instructs Defendant DCYF to send Plaintiff Nicholas Alahverdian to an out-of-state placement as soon as possible.

Defendants Essex and Letourneau had the responsibility of researching placements. Defendants Essex and Letourneau knew that Defendant Father Flanagan’s Boys’ Home had a record of abuse and/or negligence. Plaintiff was sent to be under the care of Defendant Father Flanagan’s Boys’ Home, who was supervised by Defendant State of Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.

Employees and clients of Defendant Father Flanagan’s Boys’ Home torture, beat, assault, and neglect Plaintiff constantly, maliciously, and knowingly. Defendant Father Flanagan’s Boys’ Home prohibited Plaintiff from access to the courts, or contact with anyone outside the facility.

Defendant State of Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services knew of the torture, abuse, unlawful restraints, and negligence; and does nothing to stop said torture; nor do Defendants Rhode Island Department of Children Youth, and Families, Essex, Letourneau, Carcieri, Jeremiah, Dwyer, Aucoin, Martinez, Razza, Balasco, Burk, Lindgren, V. Peter, M. Peter, Dinges, Daly, or Spellman lawfully report the abuse, torture, and negligence to law enforcement or otherwise any person who could help Plaintiff.

As a direct and proximate result of said acts of defendants, Plaintiff Nicholas Alahverdian suffered (and suffers) from violations of federal and state entitlements, violations of the United States Constitution and the Constitution of the State of Rhode Island, depression, physical pain and suffering, emotional trauma and suffering, and loss of life.

COUNT 1

Plaintiff Nicholas Alahverdian hereby incorporates foregoing paragraphs.

Plaintiff claims damages for the injuries set forth above under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against all defendants for violation of Plaintiff’s constitutional rights.

COUNT 2

Plaintiff hereby incorporates foregoing paragraphs.

All defendants had a duty under the 14th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States to protect Plaintiff from harm when they took Plaintiff into custody.

The foregoing actions and inactions of Defendants deprived Plaintiff of life, liberty, and property without due process of law, and denied Plaintiff the equal protection of the law.

Plaintiff Nicholas Alahverdian claims damages for the injuries set forth above.

COUNT 3

Plaintiff hereby incorporates foregoing paragraphs.

At all relevant times, all of the Defendants were responsible to train their employees. Defendants recklessly and with indifference to constitutional rights, failed to adequately train their employees who were involved in the care of the Plaintiff, in various matters including but not limited to how to deal with disabled persons.

Plaintiff Nicholas Alahverdian was deprived of his constitutional rights and injured as a direct and proximate result of said failure by defendants.

COUNT 4

Plaintiff hereby incorporates foregoing paragraphs.

At all relevant times, Defendants Jeremiah and Balasco had the authority yet failed to issue a warrant for any offense by any person against the Plaintiff as set forth in R.I. Gen. Laws 14-1-15.

Plaintiff was deprived of his constitutional rights and injured as a direct and proximate result of said failure by defendants.

COUNT 5

Plaintiff hereby incorporates foregoing paragraphs.

At all relevant times, Defendants Lindgren and Jeremiah had the responsibility yet failed to authorize the provision of suitable treatment… and care for the Plaintiff in the least restrictive and community-based setting pursuant to R.I. Gen. Laws 14-1-36.2.

Plaintiff was deprived of his constitutional rights and injured as a direct and proximate result of said failure by defendants.

COUNT 6

Plaintiff hereby incorporates foregoing paragraphs.

At all relevant times, Defendant Jeremiah had the responsibility yet failed to deny approval for the out-of-state placements of the Plaintiff because there were (1) suitable in-state facilities available for the placement of the Plaintiff; and (2) the proposed placement was not in the best interest of the Plaintiff pursuant to R.I. Gen. Laws 14-1-65.

Plaintiff was deprived of his constitutional rights and injured as a direct and proximate result of said failure by defendant.

COUNT 7

Plaintiff hereby incorporates foregoing paragraphs.

At all relevant times, Defendants Essex and Letourneau had the responsibility yet failed to deny approval of the inappropriate out-of-state placements that had records of abuse and/or negligence pursuant to R.I. Gen. Laws 40-15-1 et seq.

Plaintiff Nicholas Alahverdian was deprived of his constitutional rights and injured as a direct and proximate result of said failure by defendants.

COUNT 8

Plaintiff hereby incorporates foregoing paragraphs.

At all relevant times, all defendants had the responsibility yet failed to protect the Plaintiff who was affected through injury and neglect. All defendants had the responsibility yet failed to provide a nurturing and safe environment for the Plaintiff. All defendants had the requirement, yet failed to report known or suspected child abuse and neglect for the investigation of those reports, and provisions of service to the Plaintiff, pursuant to R.I. Gen. Laws 40-11-1 et seq.

Plaintiff Nicholas Alahverdian was deprived of his constitutional rights and injured as a direct and proximate result of said failure by defendants.

COUNT 9

Plaintiff hereby incorporates foregoing paragraphs.

At all relevant times, defendants DCYF, Lindgren, Aucoin, Dwyer, Garcia, Burk, Essex, Letourneau, Razza and Martinez had the responsibility yet failed to examine programs and services for the purpose of identifying program inefficiencies and unmet needs of the Plaintiff pursuant to R.I. Gen. Laws 40-72-1 et seq. Further, defendants had an obligation yet failed to meet the needs of the Plaintiff, provide the Plaintiff a safe environment, and set the standards for social services and facilities, pursuant to R.I. Gen Laws 42-72-2.

Plaintiff was deprived of his constitutional rights and injured as a direct and proximate result of said failure by defendants.

COUNT 10

Plaintiff hereby incorporates foregoing paragraphs.

At all relevant times, each and every defendant had the responsibility yet failed to protect the the personal property and civil rights of the Plaintiff, provide humane and dignified treatment to the Plaintiff with full respect for the Plaintiff’s personal dignity and right to privacy, pursuant to R.I. Gen. Laws 42-72-15.

Further, pursuant to R.I. Gen. Laws 42-72-15, each and every defendant had the responsibility yet failed to ensure that the Plaintiff was permitted to communicate with any individual, group, or agency consistent with the Plaintiff’s treatment objectives; provide the Plaintiff with writing materials and postage, and allow the Plaintiff to make or receive telephone calls to or from the Plaintiff’s attorneys, guardians ad litem, special advocates or the child advocate at any reasonable time.

Plaintiff was deprived of his constitutional rights and injured as a direct and proximate result of said failure by the defendants.

COUNT 11

Plaintiff Nicholas Alahverdian hereby incorporates foregoing paragraphs.

Defendants DCYF, Lindgren, Aucoin, Dwyer, Garcia, Burk, Essex, Letourneau, Razza and Martinez had the responsibility yet failed to protect the health, safety and well being of the Plaintiff, by not appropriately monitoring and licensing child care providers to that end.

Plaintiff was deprived of his constitutional rights and injured as a direct and proximate result of said failure by the defendants.

COUNT 12

Plaintiff incorporates foregoing paragraphs.

Plaintiff Nicholas Alahverdian claims damages for negligence.

At all relevant times, all defendants and their employees and agents had the duty to prevent abuse and negligence upon the Plaintiff.

Defendants and their employees and agents are and were obliged to insure they comply with laws regarding reporting and preventing abuse and neglect.

Defendants and their employees and agents have a duty to exercise reasonable care in supervising the care of the Plaintiff, to insure that it was not abusive or negligent.

Defendants and their employees and agents breached that duty by failing to prevent the abusive and/or negligent care; as well as failing to remove Plaintiff from abusive facilities.

As a direct and proximate result of the actions and inactions of each defendant, Plaintiff suffered injuries as aforesaid.

COUNT 13

Plaintiff incorporates foregoing paragraphs.

Plaintiff claims damages for the injuries set forth above under 42 U.S.C. § 1985 against each Defendant for the violation of conspiring to interfere with Plaintiff’s civil rights.

COUNT 14

Plaintiff hereby incorporates foregoing paragraphs.

Plaintiff claims damages for the injuries set forth above under 42 U.S.C. § 1986 against each defendant for having knowledge of the wrongs conspired to be committed.

COUNT 15

Plaintiff hereby incorporates foregoing paragraphs.

Defendants DCYF, Jeremiah, Lindgren, Carcieri, Dwyer, Garcia, Martinez, Aucoin, Burk, Essex, Letourneau, and Razza acted in a manner that deprived Plaintiff of constitutionally protected interests, entitlements arising from R.I. Gen. Laws §§ 42-72-4(b)(14) to suitable treatment and care in the least restrictive placement within the Plaintiff’s community; 42-72-5(b)(7) to placement in a home or facility that is licensed, approved, monitored and evaluated by DCYF; 42-72-5(b)(22) and 42-72-15(o) to receive a free and appropriate education in accordance with state and federal laws and to be enrolled in a school program; 42-72.9-1 to freedom from abuse, corporal punishment, involuntary seclusion, or any physical or chemical restraints that are not medically necessary or used as a means of coercion, discipline, convenience or retaliation.

Plaintiff was deprived of his constitutional rights and injured as a direct and proximate result of said failure by defendants.

COUNT 16

Plaintiff hereby incorporates foregoing paragraphs.

At all relevant times, all defendants and their employees and agents had the responsibility yet failed to ensure that Plaintiff had access to the courts. All defendants maliciously denied Plaintiff the benefit of court proceedings. All defendants denied Plaintiff the benefit of counsel who truly would advocate for Plaintiff rather than advocating for interests of defendants.

Plaintiff was deprived of his constitutional rights and injured as a direct and proximate result of said failure by defendants.

COUNT 17

Plaintiff hereby incorporates foregoing paragraphs.

At all relevant times, Defendant Balasco was the appointed CASA attorney for Plaintiff. Defendant Balasco had a high duty to investigate the laws and facts surrounding Plaintiff’s situation and to advocate positions in court that furthered Plaintiff’s interests and welfare. At all times relevant, Defendant Balasco was fully aware of the tortious acts being committed against Plaintiff by Defendants DCYF, Nebraska DHHS, Boys Town, Family Resources, Jammat, Communities for People, and Community Solutions, as Plaintiff repeatedly told Defendant Balasco of the abuses and begged Balasco to take the necessary steps to protect him.

Contrary to her duty to properly and competently represent Plaintiff’s interests, Defendant Balasco advocated solely for the interests of Defendants, successfully convincing the court to place Plaintiff in the custody of those she had been made aware were abusive and to send him and keep him away from Rhode Island. Defendant did everything possible to ensure Plaintiff’s continued vulnerability at the hands of Defendants, and did absolutely nothing to protect her client. Defendant Balasco was only interested in furthering her standing with other Defendants, and thereby undermined any potential for Plaintiff’s protection in the court.

As a direct and proximate result of Defendants’ negligence, Plaintiff suffered all of the damages set forth herein, supra.

COUNT 18

Plaintiff hereby incorporates foregoing paragraphs.

At all times relevant herein, all Defendants were acting with authority from the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC). Defendant Rev. Peter financially benefited from Defendant Nebraska DHHS negligently failing to evaluate either of their facilities for abuse and neglect. At all times relevant herein, Defendant Nebraska DHHS had a duty to properly supervise the facilities owned and/or operated by Defendant Peter and ensure that Plaintiff was not being abused or tortured by the employees of Defendant Peter. Thus, Nebraska DHHS breached that duty and allowed Defendant Peter to conduct his tortious activity uninterrupted. Defendant Peter was more concerned with increasing profits and preventing disclosure of abuse or torture than he was with ensuring that their victim, the Plaintiff, was adequately cared for. Defendants DHHS shut down facilities attended by Plaintiff a few years after Plaintiff departed because the abuse and negligence, identical to what he experienced, was finally discovered.

Defendants Peter and Nebraska DHHS are vicariously liable for the torts of its employees as set forth herein under the doctrine of respondeat superior, and is thus liable for all damages suffered by Plaintiff as a result of Defendants’ acts and omissions set forth herein.

As a direct and proximate result of Defendants’ negligence, Plaintiff suffered all of the damages set forth herein, supra.

COUNT 19

Plaintiff Nicholas Alahverdian hereby incorporates foregoing paragraphs.

Plaintiff was/is at all times relevant to this matter, a qualified individual with a disability as defined in the Americans with Disabilities Act. Plaintiff had impairments such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder that substantially limited one or more major life activities, including but not limited to thinking, concentrating, and interacting with others, and controlling his behavior.

All Defendants knowingly and consistently discriminated against Plaintiff, who is considered mentally disabled, and failed to provide him with reasonable accommodations.

By failing to provide an individualized assessment of his mental health needs and treatment requirements as an individual with mental illness, and by placing Plaintiff in two locked facilities in two different states, Defendants have denied Plaintiff the benefits of services, programs, and activities, including school, recreation, exercise, and mental health services, thus discriminating against Plaintiff on the basis of his disability in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 12132. Discrimination resulted in Plaintiff not receiving mental health services sufficient to counteract the effects that abusive and negligent facilities had on him which is distinct from the impact it had on DCYF youth who are not mentally ill.

In placing Plaintiff, a youth with mental illness, in a disciplinarily, psychologically, and logistically isolating situation with little-to-no real world relevancy and prohibiting him from contacting the outside world and thus segregating him from even already segregated DCYF youth, Defendants have failed to furnish a reasonable accommodation to Plaintiff as a person with disabilities. Defendants punished Plaintiff, a person with mental illness, for disability related conduct. Defendants deprived Plaintiff, an individual with mental illness of access to adequate mental health services by placing him in inappropriate facilities in segregation.

As a direct and proximate result of Defendants’ negligence, Plaintiff suffered all of the damages set forth herein, supra.

COUNT 20

Plaintiff hereby incorporates foregoing paragraphs.

All Defendants violated Plaintiff’s rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA), 20 U.S.C. § 1400, et seq., by failing to provide Plaintiff with access to a free and appropriate public education. See 20 U.S.C., § 20 U.S.C. § 1400(1)(A), 1401(a)(18). See 20 U.S.C. § 1401(8) and 20 U.S.C. § 1451(b)(6).

As a direct and proximate result of Defendants’ negligence, Plaintiff suffered all of the damages set forth herein, supra.

COUNT 21

Plaintiff hereby incorporates foregoing paragraphs.

All Defendants violated the Privileges and Immunities Clause because of their failure to plan for the Plaintiff’s transition from DCYF custody to independent living as required by Sections 675(1) and 677 of the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act.

As a direct and proximate result of Defendants’ negligence, Plaintiff suffered all of the damages set forth herein, supra.

COUNT 22

Defendants DCYF, State of Nebraska DHHS, and their employees and agents; including Defendants Lindgren, Burk, Dwyer, Garcia, Essex, Letourneau, and Martinez failed to adequately assess facilities that the Plaintiff was placed in. Defendants failed to acknowledge the failure to provide adequate staffing, supervision of employees, background screening of employees, the performance of safety evaluations, termination of staff with criminal records, and conduct competency evaluations to meet the needs of the Plaintiff.

Plaintiff was deprived of his constitutional rights and injured as a direct and proximate result of said failure by defendants.

COUNT 23

Defendants Father Flanagan’s Boys’ Home, Nebraska DHHS, DCYF, Lindgren, Garcia, Martinez, Burk, Dwyer, Essex, Letourneau, and Razza had the duty to assess facilities for their compliance with and enforce 42 C.F.R. § 483.356 et seq, Protection of Residents; 42 C.F.R. § 483.358(g) Orders for the Use of Restraint or Seclusion; 42 C.F.R. § 483.368 Application of Time Out; 42 C.F.R. § 483.374(b) Facility Reporting; and 42 C.F.R. 483.376(f) Education and Training. Employees were not trained  with respect to the interest of the plaintiff in the aforesaid federal regulations. Further, employees that had criminal records were negligently hired and retained.

Plaintiff was deprived of his constitutional rights and injured as a direct and proximate result of said failures by defendants.

PRAYER FOR RELIEF

WHEREFORE, Plaintiff Nicholas Alahverdian requests an order and judgment from the court:

  • awarding plaintiff full compensatory damages on his claims in an amount to be determined at trial;
  • assessing appropriate punitive damages in an amount sufficient to punish defendants for their conduct and to set an example to deter others from similar conduct;
  • awarding plaintiff pre- and post-judgment interest;
  • awarding plaintiff the costs and expenses of suit and attorney’s fees; and
  • granting such other relief as may be just and appropriate.

JURY DEMAND

Plaintiff demands trial by jury of his claims, as well as of all issues presented in this complaint.

Dated: Providence, Rhode Island

       April 7, 2011

Respectfully submitted, 

Nicholas Alahverdian

Plaintiff