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Sexual abuse alleged at group home

The administrator of a private group home for mentally retarded children and adults in Mercer County was charged Tuesday with the sexual abuse and rape of female employees at the facility.

In addition to criminal charges filed against him, Terry Wallingford also was sued by a minority partner in New Hope Agency LLC. The civil suit makes various allegations against Wallingford and others regarding the sexual abuse and harassment of employees and the anal rape of one resident at the Burgin group home.

Wallingford, 45, was arrested Tuesday by Harrodsburg police and was charged with three counts of sexual abuse and one count of rape, according to the Boyle County jail.

Meanwhile, the state began an investigation Friday into New Hope, said Vikki Franklin, a spokeswoman for the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

Franklin said the staff from the Department for Community Based Services and from the Department for Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Addiction Services are at New Hope. “They are investigating and monitoring for health and safety,” Franklin said.

New Hope has about 20 to 25 residents and employs 40 to 50 people.

Among other things, the suit alleges that in the summer of 2007 a relative of Wallingford pulled down the pants of one female resident and forced her to have anal intercourse. The relative later gave her $5, according to the suit.

When staff members noticed the resident was bleeding and reported the incident to Wallingford, he refused to take the resident to a hospital and said the resident “was making up these charges.”

Wallingford told the employees they would be fired if they discussed the matter with anyone, the suit alleges.

New Hope Agency LLC was created in 2003 by Wallingford and others. David Orwick, the plaintiff who filed suit Tuesday against Wallingford in Mercer Circuit Court, became a minority partner in 2007 when he paid Wallingford $430,000 for 25 percent interest in New Hope.

Orwick had no day-to-day responsibilities, the suit says.

On Friday, Orwick's attorney, Bruce Simpson, met with one current and five former female employees of New Hope. During that meeting, it “became obvious that there were very serious problems at New Hope regarding abuse of the residents and the sexual abuse of female employees.”

Simpson contacted Kentucky State Police on Friday and an additional report of abuse was made to a child-abuse hot line, the suit says. On Saturday, three former New Hope employees filed a criminal complaint against Wallingford with the Harrodsburg Police Department.

In addition, a current employee of New Hope filed another complaint against Wallingford in Lexington, the suit says.

The suit includes sworn affidavits from five former female employees and one current female employee who make various sexual-abuse allegations against Wallingford.

In one affidavit, a former New Hope teacher says Wallingford “made repeated sexual advances towards me.”

“He aggressively pursued me to the point of having sexual intercourse with him on approximately five different occasions, the last being in November 2007,” the former employee says. “… I did not consent to such intercourse. I did not physically resist or verbally protest because I was too scared to complain and I could not afford to lose my job.”

The same woman says in the affidavit “that at New Hope Agency, it was common knowledge that female staff could not be alone with Terry Wallingford because he would sexually abuse them.”

Another former employee says in an affidavit that Wallingford “repeatedly fondled my breasts and buttocks. He also asked me to have sex with him on repeated occasions. He finally stopped when I threatened to sue him.”

The Herald-Leader does not generally identify the victims of rape or sexual abuse.

The suit also alleges that there were times when residents were allowed to lie in their urine because staff had failed to change them or care for their bowel and bladder needs. Some residents lay in their urine so long that they became red and raw between their legs, the suit says.

In addition, a supervisor was seen smacking residents on the head with an open hand, knocking them to the floor, shoving them into walls, kicking them in the buttocks and cursing them, the suit alleges. The same supervisor also was seen repeatedly slamming a 14-year-old resident's head into a desk, the suit says.

The suit also alleges that Wallingford converted corporate funds to his own benefit and that New Hope has failed to pay $208,000 in state and federal taxes. Wallingford also withheld profits from Orwick and diverted them to Wallingford's personal accounts, the suit alleges.

The suit seeks an accounting of Wallingford's use of the New Hope property, and seeks to dissolve New Hope and have its assets distributed to members.

Orwick also accuses Wallingford of fraud by knowingly, intentionally or recklessly making representations that he knew to be false in order to convince Orwick to make additional capital contributions to New Hope. Those investments include, but are not limited to, the $430,000 that Orwick contributed.

Simpson said the criminal allegations are included in the civil suit because Wallingford's alleged actions “have devalued the business completely, and the court needs to understand the justification for dissolving the corporation and for compensating Mr. Orwick for his investment.”

Simpson said he anticipates that another criminal complaint will be filed against Wallingford in Mercer County.

In a letter to Gov. Steve Beshear, Simpson said he will seek a restraining order to remove Wallingford and other personnel from New Hope and to replace them, on an interim basis, with staff from Blue Grass Mental Health-Mental Retardation Board until there is a final resolution of the matters outlined in the suit.

A woman who answered the phone at New Hope Agency on Tuesday afternoon said, “We are not answering any questions. Thank you,” before hanging up.

No bond had been set for Wallingford as of Tuesday afternoon.