PERRYSVILLE -- The Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services is asking the Ashland County Court of Common Pleas to authorize an on-site monitor at the Mohican Young Star Academy after the court canceled an order that would have removed its current owner and placed the facility under third-party operation.
On Thursday, March 4, Judge Ron Forsthoefel vacated the magistrate order that was issued Wednesday in response to a motion filed by Attorney General Dave Yost, saying the order had been issued in error without his consultation.
In response, the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services asked Forsthoefel to instead direct the Ashland County Sheriff to immediately take possession of records from the Mohican Young Star and to allow Wingspan Care Group or the department to keep an onsite monitor at the Perrysville-based facility at all times “to ensure the health and safety of child residents at the facility.”
In this motion, filed late Thursday afternoon, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost cites newly obtained information. A memorandum in support attached to the motion highlights a former employee who brought forward information March 3 relating to “abuse and dangerous restraints” and a department employee’s observation of a Shred-It truck outside the facility, located at 1012 ODNR Mohican 51, Perrysville.
Owner of Mohican Young Star, Olga Starr, has denied the allegations of abuse and restraints. Her facility is a residential facility intended to treat youth suffering from mental health and/or addiction issues.
“I want to emphasize that these allegations have been brought about by a disgruntled former employee," Starr said Friday. "To date, there have been no findings of any wrongdoing on the part of Mohican Young Star Academy.
"The complaint contains allegations that are not true, and we look forward to presenting the facts to the Court next week.”
A civil hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. March 9 via Zoom video conference with Ashland Court of Common Pleas Court.
Starr also offered an explanation as to why the Shred-It truck was at the facility.
“We contract with a shred service to routinely pick up items from our shred bins, as we follow all HIPAA rules and do not dispose of any info that may be confidential through other unsecured methods,” she said.
The lawsuit first filed in Ashland County Common Pleas Court earlier this week sought an immediate injunction to stop Starr from operating the facility and to transfer operations to Wingspan.
This request was briefly granted, but Forsthoefel vacated the order Thursday that would have allowed this transition. The Mohican Young Star Academy continues to operate under Starr’s direction.
“We are pleased the court issued an order today vacating the preliminary injunction that was issued in error," Starr said on Thursday. "This order allows Mohican Young Star Academy to continue to operate its renowned facility, providing first-rate quality of care and treatment to its residents.”
Yost announced Wednesday he had filed a lawsuit seeking to remove owners of the Mohican Young Star Academy from operating the facility for improperly restraining youth being treated for mental-health issues.
In an e-mailed press release, Yost said the legal action came 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.”
According to the Ohio Attorney General's Office, 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, Yost said.
Several victims, all under the age of 18, reported being improperly restrained by staff members which resulted in injuries.
Based on those facts, Yost said investigators determined 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.”