KALAMAZOO, Mich. (April 7, 2014) – The family of a seven-year-old girl who says she was molested at Bronson Athletic Club by her summer camp counselor in 2012 is coming after Bronson Health and their contract company -seeking lifelong damages.
“I trusted Bronson with our daughter, and their failure to apply industry standard policies and procedures put our daughter in harm`s way,” Kristen Smith, the victim’s mother said.
The unlicensed summer camp at the athletic club is where a 16-year-old counselor admitted to molesting her daughter.
Attorneys for Bronson and Medsport – their contract company – argued the abuse was not foreseeable and therefore they are not liable. They claim they did a background check on the abuser before he was hired. He had no prior criminal history.
Kalamazoo County Judge Alexander Lipsey sided with the health care giant on that point, but will allow further arguments on another.
“They needed to train and screen their counselors, so that everybody`s watching everyone and no one’s left alone,” Ven Johnson attorney for the victim said.
Johnson argues Bronson and Medsport’s lack of training and supervision for the camp counselors led to the incident, something both sides will argue further before the judge reaches a final decision.
Johnson says the acts were foreseeable, saying the juvenile abuser had been disciplined for improper physical contact with female campers – something Bronson’s attorney argued was simply roughhousing.
“He was supposed to be a counselor and the other counselors said, ‘You can’t have kids jumping on you.’ The supervisor said, ‘You can’t have kids jumping on you when you’re the counselor,’” Bronson attorney Craig Lubben said.
The camp was voluntarily shut down four days after the child was molested.
Smith is now sharing things every parent should ask before leaving their child in someone’s care, in hopes of sparing another family their pain.
“How do you select your employees? Do you do background checks?” “What are your guidelines between counselors and campers? How do you monitor employee behavior?” “How do you ensure a safe environment?” “Do you have a child abuse prevention education program for their staff?” she said.
Bronson Health did not comment on the case citing ongoing litigation. Judge Lipsey is expected to make a decision on whether or not to move the civil case to a jury by the end of the month.