LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Attorneys in Little Rock and Chicago have filed a lawsuit against a former Arkansas facility for troubled children, claiming one of its then-staff members sexually abused its children.
Romanucci & Blandin and Gillispie Law Firm filed the lawsuit against The Lord’s Ranch in federal court Monday, naming Emmett A Presley as its prime defendant.
“These were the perfect victims, and they knew it,” Martin Gould with Romanucci & Blandin said.
For decades, The Lord’s Ranch promised troubled children a path forward, using religion to better their emotional, physiological and behavioral health.
Many of the boys there came from broken homes, and often they had a criminal history and were sexually abused as a child.
It was supposed to be a turning point in their lives, but now some are claiming that the camp was just a continuation of past trauma.
“It was horrific, they were trapped, and it’s unconscionable and unforgivable,” Joshua Gillispie with Gillispie Law Firm said.
The lawsuit alleges The Lord’s Ranch former counselor, Emmett A. Presley, sexually abused multiple boys during his time on staff.
“The several years I spent at The Lord’s Ranch were the worst, most horrific experiences that I can remember,” an alleged victim said.
Some men say they were abused weekly by Presley in his office, campus buildings, and in his car.
The lawsuit alleges staff and camp owners Bud and Ted Suhl knew about it.
“The other staff sat silent while Bud told me I’m never to repeat this to anyone,” another alleged victim said.
Victims said they were threatened with physical abuse or extensions on their stay if they told anyone. The concerns were allegedly brought up for years.
“They weren’t told by one kid, they weren’t told by two kids, they were told by many kids, including the ones we’re representing today,” Gillispie said.
The eight alleged victims are suing for negligent supervision, negligent retention, violation of standard care and individual claims of sexual battery against Presley.
“Not one staff member, not one member of the Suhl family every once lifted a finger, did a single thing to stop the abuse,” Gillipsie said.
Attorneys are filing under the Arkansas Victims of Sexual Abuse Act, which allows anyone who was sexually abused to bring a lawsuit against their perpetrator. Victims have until the end of January 2024 to do so.
The Defendants have not been served in this case; therefore, their attorneys have not been listed.
KARK 4 News will continue to reach out to them as this case moves forward.