Lord’s Ranch Sexual Abuse Lawsuits

This page will look at sexual abuse lawsuits being filed against the Lord’s Ranch, a mental health treatment facility in Arkansas.

Lord’s Ranch Sex Abuse News & Updates:

March 2024: The Governor of Arkansas, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, is now getting involved in the fallout over the Lord’s Ranch sex abuse scandal. Gov. Sanders recently released a public statement denouncing the abuse at the now closed facility. She calling for the resignation of Aloza Jiles from the state Board of Corrections. Jiles is a named defendant in all of the Lord’s Ranch lawsuits, and is alleged that he ignored his responsibility by repeatedly refusing to take action in response to known incidents of sexual abuse.

About the Lord’s Ranch

The Lord’s Ranch, known in more recent times as Trinity Behavioral Health, is a facility located in Arkansas that has served as a treatment center for troubled youth. Its history spans several decades, during which it has been both praised for its services and scrutinized for its methods.

The Lord’s Ranch was established in 1976 by Bud and Shirley Suhl, aiming to provide counseling to children to aid their emotional, spiritual, and behavioral development. By 1987, it had received its license from the Arkansas Department of Human Services as a Residential Childcare Facility. Throughout its operation, The Lord’s Ranch presented itself as a therapeutic community for children and adolescents aged 6 to 17, offering residential treatment services.

Located in Warm Springs, Arkansas, The Lord’s Ranch occupied over 1,100 acres, with its main address at 1033 Old Burr Road, Warm Springs, AR 72478. This institution, along with its associated, preceding, and succeeding organizations, maintained the same primary business location in Warm Springs. These entities, which were under common ownership and management, collectively operated under the name “The Lord’s Ranch.”

The facility offered a mix of education, therapy, and religious instruction, intending to help youth with behavioral issues, substance abuse problems, or legal troubles. Over time, it expanded its services and facilities, at various points operating under different names.

Bud Shul’s son, Ted Shul, eventually took over control of the Lord’s Ranch from his father. Ted Suhl was prosecuted and convicted for engaging in an extensive scheme that defrauded the Medicaid program and the Arkansas Department of Human Services out $125 million. The Lord’s Ranch was the primary vehicle for this fraud scheme.

Sex Abuse

While Ted Suhl was busy using the Lord’s Ranch to defraud Medicaid, many patients at the facility were being victimized and sexually abused and exploited. Recently allegations have come out that staff at the Lord’s Ranch sexually abused young, vulnerable patients for years dating back to the early 1990s.  The Lord’s Ranch took in children between the ages of 7 and 17, many of which came from difficult family situations or had criminal histories.

Sadly, instead of being a place to get better, the Lord’s Ranch was a site of consistent sexual abuse and other mistreatment for these vulnerable children. The individuals who managed and worked at this secluded establishment systematically exploited and harmed the young residents. This abuse was characterized by deliberate acts of the most horrible possible things –  including severe physical harm leading to significant injuries like broken bones. They attacked these children’s minds as well as their bodies through evil methods such as isolation and the use of straitjackets.

Efforts to hide their sexual and other abuse were rampant, with any attempts by the victims to seek help being met with either indifference or threats, further endangering the children and preventing any intervention. When complaints reached external adults, including parents, the management would undermine the victims by accusing them of falsehoods, ensuring any external inquiries were dismissed and retaliated against, often with more violence and mental and physical torment. This was just unimaginably awful stuff.

The core allegations in the lawsuit against The Lord’s Ranch revolve around sexual assaults on children by both staff and other residents. Leadership figures, including Bud Suhl, Ted Suhl, Shirley Suhl, and key staff members, were fully cognizant of the ongoing abuse, with some participating directly in the mistreatment. The Suhl family and their associates deliberately chose to ignore the welfare of the children and adolescents in their care, using threats and violence to suppress any reports of abuse, thereby enabling the continuation of these atrocities for their financial gain.

Moreover, it is alleged that the staff, including Ted Suhl, Emmett Presley, and Alonza Jiles, were involved in the illegal transportation of minors to The Lord’s Ranch for the purposes of abuse and exploitation. This lawsuit, invoking both Arkansas state and federal laws, seeks compensation for the victims for the irreparable harm suffered, alongside punitive damages aimed at deterring similar conduct in other institutions.

Sex Abuse Lawsuits Against Lord’s Ranch

Former victims of sexual abuse at the Lord’s Ranch are now coming forward and filing civil lawsuits. Arkansas recently enacted a new law that makes it much easier for victims of child sexual abuse, like many former Lord’s Ranch patients, to file civil lawsuits even decades after the abuse occurred.

Normally, the statute of limitations prevents victims of sexual abuse from bringing civil lawsuits years after the fact. In 2021, however, Arkansas joined many other states in changing their laws to give victims an opportunity to bring civil claims. The law passed in Arkansas gave child sex abuse victims a 2 year window to file civil lawsuits for abuse no matter how long ago it happened.

That 2-year window was set to expire January 31, 2024, until the Arkansas legislature stepped in and amended the law to extend the period out for another 2 years. So now child sex abuse victims in Arkansas have until January 31, 2026 to file civil lawsuits with no statute of limitations. Arkansas Code Annotated § 16-118-118

Who Is Eligible to Bring a Lord’s Ranch Sex Abuse Lawsuit?

Anyone who was under age 18 and was a patient/resident at the Lord’s Ranch (Trinity Behavioral Health) or participated in any of its camps or related events and was sexually abused or assaulted by staff members may be eligible to file a civil lawsuit and get financial compensation.

What qualifies as sexual abuse? The law defines sexual abuse as any form of unwanted sexual touching or contact that is made without consent. Legally, anyone under the age of 18 lacks the capacity to consent to sexual contact with an adult, therefore, ANY sexual touching of a minor by an adult qualifies as sexual abuse under the law.

Recent Sex Abuse Lawsuit Filed Against Lord’s Ranch

A group 8 former residents and patients at Lord’s Ranch have recently filed a civil lawsuit seeking monetary damages for being sexually abused by staff members at Lord’s Ranch. According to the lawsuit, the primary abuser at Lord’s Ranch was Emmet Alden Presley, a licensed counselor and former Director of Social Services.

One of the plaintiffs in the case claims that he was regularly raped by Presley during counseling sessions over a 3 year period. He claims that he reported the abuse to the directors of Lord’s Ranch, but nothing was done and he was physically assaulted in retaliation.

Another plaintiff claims that Presley promised him that he would let him leave the ranch and go back home if he performed oral sex on Presley. Then Presley threatened him with solitary confinement after he attempted to report the abuse. The lawsuit also includes female plaintiffs, one of whom alleges that she was sexually abused starting at age 16.

Contact Us About Lord’s Ranch

If you were sexually abused or sexually assaulted while a resident or patient at the Lord’s Ranch facility in Arkansas, contact our sex abuse lawyers today to see if you qualify for a lawsuit. Contact us online or call us at 800-553-8082.

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