An attorney involved in a lawsuit against the shuttered Elmore Academy was unaware several boxes of files of former students marked “confidential” were recently purchased at an auction held in Blue Earth.
“I’m going to start making some phone calls to see what is going on,” says Jeff Storms, attorney for Cullen Kennedy.
“I am very interested in making sure that everyone’s confidentiality is kept private,” he adds.
The youth detention facility opened in 1998 and was shut down four years ago following allegations of abuse and accusations that staff was housing non-violent teen with violent ones.
Scott Adams, Faribault County chief deputy, says Blue Earth police are in charge of handling the files because the auction took place in the city.
“We will assist them in taking custody of the records. There are so many boxes.” says Adams. “The county attorney’s office is involved as well, to decide what should be done.”
According to a news report, a man paid $20 for the storage unit that had files containing Social Security numbers, medical and criminal on teenagers who attended the academy.
Blue Earth police chief Tom Fletcher could not be reached for comment.
In the suit filed in federal court in Minneapolis, Kennedy contends he suffered a badly broken jaw after being beaten and that school officials failed to protect him after receiving repeated threats from a fellow student.
Kennedy, who was 14 years old at the time, was arrested for fleeing police in 2012 and taken to Elmore Academy.
According to complaint, he was soon beaten by inmates “until they were too tired to continue” the assault.
Kennedy alleges that staff at the facility did nothing to protect him, instead returned him to the general population.
He is seeking monetary damages from parent company Youth Services International (YSI), five former academy officials, five former guards referred to in the suit as “John Does,” and Faribault and Martin counties.
His lawsuit also points to other federal cases brought against YSI centers across the country that date to 1997. According to court documents, YSI dissolved in October 2017.