Children’s Hospital Colorado Faces Lawsuit for Failing to Report Teen’s Abuse

Children’s Hospital Colorado is facing a lawsuit after allegedly failing to report a teen’s abuse for two years, leaving her in constant fear of retaliation by her abuser. The patient, identified as O.C., repeatedly disclosed to providers at the hospital between December 2020 and May 2021 that she was being physically and sexually abused by a male relative. However, the hospital allegedly did not file a report with authorities until December 2022, in violation of Colorado’s mandatory reporting law.

According to the lawsuit, Children’s Hospital Colorado required all staff to report child abuse suspicions to the hospital’s internal review team instead of directly to law enforcement or social services. In O.C.’s case, the hospital conducted internal reviews on three occasions but failed to ensure that someone reported the abuse to the required authorities.

This incident raises concerns about the hospital’s internal reporting system, which lacks built-in checks to ensure that abuse allegations are promptly reported to the authorities as mandated by law. The hospital’s policy of handling abuse reports internally came under scrutiny during the investigations following the 2017 death of Olivia Gant, a 7-year-old girl whose providers at Children’s had raised concerns about suspected abuse but failed to file a report.

Colorado’s child protection ombudsman, Stephanie Villafuerte, criticized hospitals using internal teams to make decisions on reporting child abuse, stating that it conflicted with the spirit of the state’s mandatory reporting law.

O.C., now a high school senior living in a different state, expressed the fear and trauma she experienced due to the reporting delay. She missed months of school, suffered panic attacks, and felt constant fear for her life and her family members’ well-being. The hospital’s failure to take action made her question herself and led to increased thoughts of suicide.

Children’s Hospital Colorado stated that it could not comment on the pending lawsuit but emphasized that it takes reporting obligations seriously and makes every effort to ensure timely reporting of abuse.

The lawsuit seeks to prompt change in how providers respond when patients disclose abuse and to give hope to other survivors. O.C. hopes that her story will encourage survivors to speak out and seek help, emphasizing the importance of being believed and supported.

The hospital’s alleged failure to report the abuse until December 2022 came to light when O.C.’s parents requested documents related to abuse reporting from her medical records. The lawsuit further claims that someone at the hospital backdated a report by two years to make it appear that the social worker, Theresa Hedenskog, had filed notice of O.C.’s abuse promptly.

O.C.’s abuser eventually confessed to sexually assaulting her and at least one other child. He pleaded guilty to sexual exploitation of a child and received a 10-year prison sentence in August.

CrimeDoor
Author: CrimeDoor

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