Disability Rights Ohio files federal lawsuit against child residential treatment facility Buckeye Ranch for denying access to facility, children

August 16, 2018 / access authority

Disability Rights Ohio (DRO) has filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio against The Buckeye Ranch, a 106-bed child residential treatment facility in Franklin County. The suit was filed in response to The Buckeye Ranch denying DRO access to video surveillance footage of documented incidents of abuse of four children at the facility in late July, as well as denying access to monitor the facility and speak to children currently receiving care there. As the federally and state-designated Protection & Advocacy (P&A) system in Ohio, DRO has broad authority to monitor any facility or service provider in the state providing care or treatment to individuals with disabilities, or to investigate incidents of abuse and neglect of individuals with disabilities.

Recently, DRO received notice of incidents of restraint against four children at The Buckeye Ranch in July 2018, along with limited video footage. DRO requested additional video footage from each of the facility’s six cameras for one hour before and after each incident, in an attempt to put the incidents in context. This request was denied. DRO then notified The Buckeye Ranch that we would require a tour of the facility and access to interview all child residents to determine if there are additional problems. This request was also denied. Both denials are in violation of federal and state statutes outlining DRO’s access authority.

“As Ohio’s P&A, Disability Rights Ohio has a responsibility to investigate and advocate to remedy abuse and neglect of people with disabilities in all settings,” says DRO Executive Director Michael Kirkman. “In the case of The Buckeye Ranch, we had video evidence of abuse of the children in their care, which required additional investigation. We call on the Court to uphold our access authority so we can investigate and hold accountable those who would abuse some of Ohio’s most vulnerable residents.”

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