A 7-year-old's death at a Kentucky youth facility exposes years of alleged abuses

Ja’Ceon Terry was 7 years old when he suffocated to death in the care of people who were supposed to look after him when his parents could not.

Ja’Ceon Terry was 7 years old when he suffocated to death in the care of people who were supposed to look after him when his parents could not.

The boy was a ward of the state and had been staying at Brooklawn, a foster care facility in Louisville, Kentucky, for children with mental and behavioral needs, when he died July 17 of “positional asphyxia,” according to the Jefferson County Coroner’s Office.

On the day Ja'Ceon died, a program manager recalled being told that the child had been held in a chokehold by two employees and that he began to vomit, according to a source with knowledge of the encounter.

But there had been allegations of wrongdoing at the facility and its sister campus for several years before Ja’Ceon’s death, according to an NBC News review of incident reports filed with the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services from 2014 to 2022, a lawsuit against the facility and a former employee who says she was intimidated into quitting after she reported abuse. Among the violations “confirmed” by state investigators from the Kentucky Cabinet were improper use of restraints and aggression by staff members.

The facility said that since Ja’Ceon’s death, which the Jefferson County Coroner’s Office ruled a homicide, it has “dismissed” two employees who it says were involved, and the Kentucky Cabinet of Health and Family Services, the state agency that oversees youth centers, has suspended new foster care placements at Brooklawn. But Brooklawn has remained in operation, and its license is in good standing with the state agency. As of Oct. 20, 32 children who are in state custody remained in Brooklawn’s care, according to the facility.   

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/7-year-olds-death-kentucky-youth-facility-exposes-years-alleged-abuses-rcna52793


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