(ASHLAND, Ohio) — Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost has filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS) to remove owners of the Mohican Young Star Academy from operating the facility for improperly restraining youth being treated for mental health issues.
The lawsuit, filed in Ashland County Common Pleas Court, seeks immediate injunction to stop Olga Starr, owner of Mohican Young Star, from operating the facility and transfer operations to a third-party receiver. The motion comes after a state inspection at the youth residential treatment center in Perrysville found numerous reports of resident abuse and a gross lack of reporting of the use of restraints as required by law.
“These youth were in need of treatment and compassion but instead were held down and traumatized,” Yost said. “There’s a clear line between therapy and abuse and that’s why we are before the court.”
Mohican is a residential facility to help treat youth suffering from mental health and/or addiction issues.
The department inspected the facility and interviewed several residents who said they were subject to restraint and abuse. Investigations found video surveillance of the incidents in which improper restraint techniques were used, putting the youth at risk. Several victims, all under the age of 18, reported being improperly restrained by staff members which resulted in injuries.
Based on those facts, investigators determined that there was present danger to the health and safety of the youth residing at Mohican.
“Our priority is the safety, health, and well-being of these youth. What they experienced at the hands of adults who should have been providing hope and healing is abusive and unacceptable,” said Ohio Mental Health and Addiction Services Director Lori Criss. “I am grateful for the bravery of those who spoke up, and I appreciate the urgent and careful work of our staff and the Attorney General to protect them and ensure they can safely continue their treatment and recovery.”
AG Yost asked the court to issue an order immediately allowing a different licensed operator to take over management of the facility, so that the residents can be protected without the trauma of a sudden relocation.
Yost petitioned the court to appoint Wingspan Care Group as receiver to provide immediate care for the residents and assume supervision and management of the facility, residents and staff according to the standards of quality and care required by the state, and if needed, manage the safe transition of the youth to other facilities to continue their care. OhioMHAS staff is currently onsite at Mohican Young Star Academy and will remain so through the transition to assist residents and their families.
OhioMHAS is the licensing and regulatory authority over providers of behavioral services to ensure the safety, health and well-being of Ohioans receiving care and treatment from these providers. If a provider fails to meet the appropriate standards or has been found to be engaging in improper or illegal behavior, the department will take action to protect the Ohioans in their care.
Ohioans receiving behavioral health services have the right to have their concerns and complaints heard, and OhioMHAS provides a variety of advocacy services and assistance to resolve complaints and grievances. For more information, visit www.mha.ohio.gov/families-children-and-adults/get-help/client-rights or call the department’s consumer and family toll-free Bridge line at 1-877-275-6364.