SALEM, W.Va. (WBOY) — A possible record settlement was reached in the child abuse case against the now permanently closed Miracle Meadows School in Salem, West Virginia, attorneys for the victims announced Wednesday.
The claims for settlement amounts now total $100 million following years of litigation, which attorneys say is believed to be a record amount for such cases in West Virginia.
The civil case was initially filed in 2017, and “nearly all” cases were consolidated under a case that was settled in 2020 for $52 million. The case with the $100 million settlement wrapped up Wednesday, according to a press release from the law firm representing the plaintiffs; there are also additional cases that are still pending.
The victims that Attorneys Guy D’Andrea of Laffey Bucci & Kent LLP, Jesse Forbes of Forbes Law Offices PLLC and Scott Long of Hendrickson & Long, PLLC represent are now adults. Miracle Meadows School was a Christian boarding school that purported to serve children ages 7 to 17 who had behavioral or educational issues, some of whom had learning disabilities.
Hundreds of students experienced “horrifying” “extreme mental, sexual, and physical abuse” during the school’s operation between 1987 and 2014, the release said, including being:
- Handcuffed, chained and shackled to beds
- Kept in small isolation rooms for months at a time
- Forced to sleep on concrete floors and use coffee cans in place of bathrooms
- Sexually assaulted
- Deprived of medical care
- Starved and malnourished
- Forced to perform manual labor
- Beaten routinely
The school was forced to shut down in August 2014 after a teacher, Timothy Arrington, was arrested after being accused of choking and handcuffing a student. School administrator Susan Gayle Clark was handed several charges after an investigation, and she pleaded guilty to child neglect creating risk of bodily injury, failure to report, and obstructing an officer and was sentenced to six months in jail and five years of probation.
The Harrison County Sheriff’s Department also uncovered sex abuse and physical assault at the school during their investigation.