Lawsuit says sexual assaults went unreported at NC wilderness camp where child died

Trails Carolina | Photo: WLOS

LAKE TOXAWAY, N.C. — A wilderness therapy camp in North Carolina that’s already under investigation for the death of a student is now facing a federal lawsuit for allegations of the sexual abuse of a 12-year-old child in 2016.

Trails Carolina advertises itself as a wilderness camp for “children and teens who struggle with various mental health issues and behavioral concerns.”

The North Carolina Division of Health Service Regulation has issued Trails Carolina several deficiency reports since 2019. They came after annual inspections and a complaint, which was later determined to be unsubstantiated.

A new lawsuit comes just days after the death of a 12-year-old boy attending the camp on Feb. 3. The plaintiff in the lawsuit alleges another student attending the camp was responsible for the abuse, and she claims she wasn’t the only victim.

“[Plaintiff’s] sexual assailant, hereinafter referred to as “Jane Doe,” had sexually assaulted two other girls prior to assaulting Plaintiff,” the lawsuit alleges.

The first alleged assault happened a week into the victim’s stay at the camp and continued even after being reported to staff, according to the lawsuit.

Although another student allegedly committed the assaults, the lawsuit names the business, as well as the plaintiff’s therapist at the time, for their alleged failure to act after the reported assault to authorities.

“They did not report it to Trails Carolina’s regulators or law enforcement, as Trails Carolina has a policy that requires its employees to instead report sexual assault to either,” according to the court documents.

Channel 9 is working to learn if a police report or any criminal charges were later filed in connection with the alleged assault.

The plaintiff now wants the court to grant a jury trial as well as punitive damages “in excess of $75,000.”

We’re reaching out to Trails Carolina for a comment on the lawsuit. Check this article for updates.

(WATCH: Former YMCA worker charged with child sex crimes now accused of abuse at Camp Thunderbird)

Michael Praats, wsoctv.com

Michael is an investigative producer for Channel 9.