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Sexual Abuse in Rehab Facilities

By Kosieradzki Smith Law Firm / July 31, 2017

Woman Repeatedly Abused in East Grand Forks Rehab Facility

At Douglas Place Treatment Center, an addiction recovery facility in East Grand Forks, MN, investigators uncovered that a staff member engaged in sexual contact with one of the facility’s patients, contrary to both state law and the facility’s own policies. Douglas Place has been operating under a conditional license since 2015 due to dozens of previous state rule violations.

According to the report, the staff member entered the patient’s room on two different occasions, May 9th and May 13th. Both instances occurring between the hours of 4 to 6 A.M. while the staff member was pretending to be doing routine room checks. During the first incident the staff member hugged the patient, grabbed her buttocks, and left before other staff members could catch him in the room. During the second encounter the staff member asked the patient if she wanted to “see and kiss” his genitalia. The patient then performed oral sex on the staff member. Video evidence outside of the room shows that in both incidents the staff member was in the room about 3 minutes. The staff member also attempted to persuade the patient to meet outside the treatment facility, but the patient never did so.

Interviewed staff members explained that routine room checks at the facility follow specific protocol. The checks are usually conducted in pairs, take less than 30 seconds per patient, and staff members are generally assigned to only check on patients of the same gender. The checks can also generally be accomplished without having to close the door.

The accused staff member asserted that in at least one of the occasions, he was delivering a letter to the patient. However, other staff members stated that the patients are usually asleep from 4 to 6 A.M., and such a letter delivery would have been unreasonable.

The Minnesota Department of Human Services’ report stated: “It was determined that the substantiated sexual abuse of the vulnerable adult for which the [staff member] was responsible met the definition of serious maltreatment and was also determined to be recurring maltreatment because the [staff member] had sexual contact with the [patient].”

Sadly, this is not the first instance of sexual abuse at Douglas Place. On Christmas Eve 2014, a female patient was awoken by a man “petting her face and stroking her hair,” saying that he had come “for an early Christmas present,” before pulling down her shorts and sexually assaulting her. The man was later identified as the facility’s executive director, Bruce Biddlecome. The victim also told police Biddlecome had sexually assaulted her twice before, threatening to send her “back where [she] came from” if she refused to comply, which she understood was prison. The trial against Mr. Biddlecome took place in January of 2018. The victim was represented by Kosieradzki Smith Law Firm and awarded $16,000,000. According to the investigation results, the victim was forced to engage in unwanted sex three times with Biddlecome since residing at the drug treatment facility as a patient.

Bruce L. Biddlecome, is ordered to pay $8 million in compensatory damages and $8 million in punitive damages. He was the former executive director of Douglas Place Treatment Center in East Grand Forks, Minnesota. Biddlecome threatened to have the victim sent back to jail if she did not comply with his demands for sex.

Records show that this wasn’t Bruce L. Biddlecome’s first offense. He has an extensive criminal record before working at Douglas Place Treatment Center. He pleaded guilty to loitering to pay for sex, has a felony for vehicle theft, and a charge for assault with a deadly weapon. “I am disappointed that we have a system where a man with his criminal background was hired in a position of public trust in the first place,” Kosieradzki said. “He had no business being there.” The victim was “furious” that Biddlecome did not receive a harsher punishment for his actions.