SHERURNE COUNTY, Minn. (KMSP) - Two former group home employees filed a lawsuit recently against the Department of Human Services and Sherburne County claiming not enough was done to protect them from a violent resident, with one employee saying she was raped and the other saying she was punched in the face.
The attorney for the women claims DHS is not controlling the people placed in small, group home settings, creating an unsafe environment for some vulnerable adults, staff members and the community.
“This man should have never been placed in a home with three other individuals, with the staff members being primarily women," said attorney Michelle Kelsey. "This man should never have been placed in a situation where he was able to attack the only woman who was working to take care of four gentlemen in a home."
According to a criminal complaint, a man named Nathanial Chambers sexually assaulted one of the group home employees last October. He warned her not to tell anyone before leaving the room but the woman was able to call police, the complaint said.
“I don’t think it was a possibility, I think it was a probability," Kelsey said. "I think it was a matter of time."
Kelsey said all of the signs were there, Chambers had violent and sexually aggressive tendencies, based on his history at other homes. But the managers didn’t share the full extent of his history.
“While information was provided to them in bits and pieces about this person, they weren’t informed about the fact that he has a very violent history, including several incidents of attacks on other women in foster home situations,” Kelsey said. “Essentially, that was brushed under the carpet and our clients were simply told, ‘wear looser clothing, don’t go into his bedroom when he’s in there, you don’t want to have any interaction with him where he may find you sexually attractive.’”
Besides DHS and Sherburne County, the suit also names the home’s operator Community Living Options (CLO) and Chambers himself.
According to the lawsuit, Chambers was also known to have kept a journal in which he "memorialized numerous sexual comments and fantasies, including descriptions of rape fantasies" directed specifically at one of the employees. The employee stated that she reported the journal, but it was dismissed by authorities.
Chambers was ruled not competent to stand trial and is now in a state facility awaiting another evaluation, Fox 9 has learned. The owner of CLO, the operator of 50 homes in East Central Minnesota, was not available for comment. The Sherburne County Administrator said he has not reviewed the suit.
Statement from Minnesota Department of Human Services:
“We have received the complaint and are reviewing these serious and disturbing allegations that took place at a private group home facility. If a group home client has a history of violent behavior, the safety of the community, staff and individual must always be a top priority.”