BILLINGS – The Special K Ranch in Columbus is denying allegations made by a Georgia man who claims his disabled son was sexually assaulted at the facility.
The complaint filed against the Special K Ranch in U.S. District Court in Billings earlier this month alleges five counts of wrongdoing, including negligence and breach of duty.
According to its website, the Special K Ranch provides “family oriented Christian homes, on a working ranch for adults who have developmental disabilities.”
The plaintiff’s son is developmentally delayed and “particularly vulnerable to abuse and neglect,” according to the complaint. The complaint refers to the son as a minor but does not state his age.
Special K Ranch Executive Director Mike Oberg confirmed the plaintiff’s son had stayed at the facility for a couple of days in 2017 and said the resident was 20 at the time.
After one of his visits to the facility, the victim reportedly acted “unusually, being (very) quiet, unwilling to change his clothes or bathe, and isolate himself.”
The resident’s counselor suspected the victim was sexually assaulted, according to the complaint.
The resident’s mother scheduled a sexual assault exam, which allegedly revealed evidence that the resident had been raped.
The plaintiff argues that his son is not capable of consenting to sexual contact due to his condition.
Oberg said he’s never met the plaintiff and added that the allegations come as a shock.
“We don’t even know when the opportunity (for the rape) could have arose,” said Oberg on Friday. “We’ve had the sheriff’s office out here investigating and they didn’t find anything. This is the first we’ve heard of it in six months.”
Oberg said the Special K Ranch will fight the lawsuit.
“I think, unfortunately any more, nonprofits, especially Christian non-profits, are really becoming a target,” said Oberg.
The complaint alleges that the Special K Ranch never notified the victim’s family, the Montana Department of Family Services, or law enforcement.
The plaintiff also alleges that Special K Ranch failed to seek counseling or medical care for his son and did not ensure he was safe from future assaults.
The complaint claims the Special K Ranch owed a duty to the victim to keep him safe from harm and also alleges the defendant tried to cover up the assault.
As a result of the assault, the victim has reportedly suffered psychological and physical pain, as well as anxiety.
The plaintiff is requesting damages of more than $75,000.
Reporting by Aja Goare for MTN News