The state Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) has agreed to pay $3 million to settle a lawsuit brought by a woman who was sexually abused as a girl by a counselor at a state-run psychiatric hospital.
The abuse occurred a decade ago at the Child Study and Treatment Center (CSTC) in Lakewood, the only state-run psychiatric hospital for children.
Anthony W. Grant worked at the hospital as a registered counselor in 2002, when he met a young 14-year-old female patient there.
“Crystal” had been abandoned by a drug-addicted mother, sexually molested by a relative and bounced among numerous foster homes and mental institutions. (The Times is using only her first name because the newspaper generally does not identify victims of sexual crimes.)
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Grant, who was 29 at the time, befriended the troubled teen and gave her gifts, including a stuffed animal and compact discs, according to court records. She became infatuated with Grant and followed him around on his evening shifts.
Later, Crystal told police she had lost her virginity to Grant and that they’d repeatedly had sex in the “canteen,” a nook with vending machines.
After Crystal left the hospital in 2003, her foster mother discovered emails revealing the relationship and alerted police.
In a letter firing Grant in 2004, his boss wrote that he’d taken advantage of “an extremely vulnerable child entrusted to the care of the state.”
Grant was charged with rape of a child, but Crystal was a reluctant witness and a jury deadlocked on the charge.
He later pleaded guilty to “communications with a minor for immoral purposes,” got probation and was ordered to register as a sex offender.
The case was documented in a 2006 Seattle Times investigative series “License to Harm,” which examined lax state oversight of health-care professionals accused of sexual misconduct.
The settlement in the lawsuit averts a trial that was set to begin Monday.
In a news release Friday evening, DSHS said policies at the CSTC had been strengthened since the events described in the lawsuit took place. For example, male staff members are no longer allowed to spend unsupervised time with female patients.
In a statement, DSHS spokesman Thomas Shapley said, “We deeply regret what happened to this young woman. We hope she will use the money from this settlement to get the help she needs to recover from that traumatic time in her life.”
Seattle Times news researcher Gene Balk contributed to this report, which also includes material from The Seattle Times archives.
Jim Brunner: 206-515-5628 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter @Jim_Brunner