2 More Teens Step Forward Alleging Abuse at Youth Villages Group Home in Memphis

Youth Villages Group Home in Tennessee
The Youth Villages facility in Tennessee.Youth Villages

Twin siblings who said they were residents of Youth Villages group home in Memphis have come forward, alleging they were abused at the facility where an incident resulted in the death of a 17-year-old girl.

A brother and sister who say they lived at a Youth Villages group home in Tennessee have stepped forward alleging they were abused there, weeks after a 17-year-old girl died following an incident at the facility.

Latrice and Lawrence Johnson, who are 19-year-old twins, said they had been in foster care when they were sent to the home at age 12.

“I was refused my meals at nighttime,” Latrice Johnson said at a press conference Wednesday. “You’re supposed to be able to get up every morning, wash your face, brush your teeth. They will send us to school without doing any of that. I was smacked in the face by a staff member. I was beat up by staff.”

The siblings are being represented by civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who announced two weeks ago he was representing the family of Alegend Jones, 17, who died in a hospital last month following "a reported incident," the group home said.

Jones' family contends the girl died after being beaten by staff following an encounter where she refused to disrobe in front of two men for a medical examination.

Youth Villages has denied all of the allegations against its Memphis group home.

On Wednesday, the home issued a statement that said child abuse and neglect are not tolerated in any of its facilities.

"We have been deeply saddened and alarmed by all allegations of inappropriate conduct and abusive behavior at Youth Villages facilities," the statement said. "Child abuse and neglect are not tolerated under any circumstances. Allegations of abuse or injury are taken very seriously and reported directly to Child Protective Services. Any allegation is thoroughly investigated by third parties."

The group home also had denied all claims of wrongdoing by the family of Jones, whose mother said she was "body-slammed" in mid-November by two male counselors after the teen refused to strip in front of them during a medical appointments.

Youth Villages officials said they are continuing to work "closely and transparently" with authorities in response to the "incident that occurred on Nov. 16."

An autopsy is pending. The Tennessee Department of Children’s Services is investigating the death.

At Wednesday's press conference, Lawrence Johnson said he and other residents were regularly beaten and restrained. After one beating, he alleged, he came to in a hospital, where he heard group home employees telling the medical staff that he had fallen from a table.

"I was beaten, knocked unconscious, sent to the hospital after getting knocked unconscious and not being able to say why," Lawrence said. "I recall when I was at the hospital, it was being told that I fell off a table, and I never really got to tell my story."

The twins, who are now college students, alleged that there are many other residents who received similar abuse.

“Thousands of kids,” Lawrence told reporters at the press conference. “Not just me.”

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