GOSHEN — Attorneys for Goldenrod are denying any responsibility in the alleged sexual assault of a former resident of the agency for adults with mental disabilities.
The parents of a former resident alleged in a lawsuit earlier this year that Goldenrod was negligent in knowingly placing her with another resident who was an “aggressive sexual predator.” They claim in the lawsuit, filed in June in Elkhart County court, that their daughter was assaulted and sexually molested by the other resident shortly after she began living in a Goldenrod home in summer 2018.
The lawsuit claims that Goldenrod employees were aware that the other resident had a history of molesting female housemates, which was not disclosed to the woman or her parents. The woman suffered severe emotional distress and psychological trauma as a result, her parents say, resulting in nightmares and a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder.
The faith-based agency, formerly called Mennonite Disabilities Committee Inc., operated housing at 1514 College Ave. Goldenrod abruptly closed in January, citing a lack of finances.
In a response filed with the court Monday, attorneys for the agency say they lack the knowledge to determine whether the assault and molestation claims are true, and so deny them. They also demand proof of the claims.
They similarly deny allegations that Goldenrod employees were negligent in placing the two women together, as well as the claims about what the daughter suffered as a result. They also deny the claim that the woman entered a lease agreement with Goldenrod and was a resident at a College Avenue address.
The lawyers say in a separate filing that, among “those against whom fault can be attributed,” the majority of the fault lies with the woman so Indiana law bars her from recovering any damages. They say that fault includes her own negligence, assumed risk and failure to avoid injury, and that the alleged injuries she suffered were not caused by the negligence of Goldenrod but by a third party.
They also state that, due to no fault on the part of Goldenrod, the agency was “faced with a sudden emergency which deprived (them) of the opportunity to deliberate (their) actions,” and that the “alleged acts or omissions were reasonable and prudent under the circumstances.”