‘One of the worst experiences’: Mother claims mental health clinic staff broke son’s arm

Published: Jul. 21, 2022 at 8:47 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 22, 2022 at 12:01 AM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

GEORGETOWN, S.C. (WCSC/WMBF) - A mother who claims her 13-year-old was dragged down the stairs and punched by employees at a Georgetown behavioral health center is speaking publicly about the incident.

“Our story is unique from the beginning,” Lerryn Gough says.

Gough says her son has autism, among other needs. It was a year ago, she says, that Gough put him into the care of Broadstep Behavioral Health in Georgetown, SC.

It was not long after he arrived in April of 2021 that an altercation where the teen hit a staff member escalated into the clinic’s staff dragged her son down the stairs, punching him and breaking his arm, according to a lawsuit against the clinic, filed earlier this year in Georgetown County.

That lawsuit alleges an employee held the teen’s arm behind his back until a “pop” let out. The documents go on to say he was treated for a broken arm, but his mother was never notified.

Gough says Broadstep did not tell her or the Department of Social Services, which oversees the clinic. She says she located her son using the ‘Find my iPad’ feature on her phone after she had not heard from him for an extended period.

“The idea that a special needs child would have his arm broken in a facility that’s supposed to be providing care for him is pretty shocking,” Attorney Heather Stone, who’s representing Gough and her son, says.

“The assault was at 8:30 at night,” Gough says. “He was not taken to the Emergency Room until approximately 11 a.m.”

This situation was not just a bad couple of days, Gough explains, but an emotional journey for the mother/son pair.

“One of the worst experiences,” Gough says. “It’s up there with losing his mother. I didn’t know if he was alive. I just don’t want this to happen to another mother.”

Gough says her son lost his biological mother, who is also her sister, when he was nine months old. Gough adopted him when he was 14 months old.

“With the pandemic, for a child who’s on the spectrum, that disruption was incredibly hard, as it was for all the kids,” Gough says.

Her attorney says there are other kids likely in similar situations.

“These children need our help to make sure that what they’ve gone through doesn’t continue to define them,” Gough says. ”[The kids] are not bad. Their situation isn’t even bad. It’s a situation that can happen to anybody.”

Broadstep has not responded to a request for comment.

The Georgetown City Council voted Thursday to revoke Broadstep’s business license on the basis of it being a public nuisance.

Copyright 2022 WCSC. All rights reserved.