Lawsuit: Roane Academy covered up sexual conduct with minors, fraud

Roane Academy

ROCKWOOD (WATE) – A troubled male juvenile treatment facility is facing a lawsuit from a woman who claims she was fired in retaliation for reporting problems and misconduct ranging from having sexual contact with underage residents to Tenncare fraud.

On July 6, 2015, Davis said she was working as a youth counselor at Rockwood Academy when she noticed on a security camera that a 17-year-old resident was sitting up in his bed and appeared sick. Davis said she arranged for the teen to be taken to the hospital.

In the lawsuit, Davis said the teen told her that one of the nurses and an employee working at Roane Academy had provided him with the various tobacco products and he had eaten them, causing him to get sick She said the 17-year-old told her the nurse and employee had engaged in sexual conduct with him in the center’s laundry room and provided dates when the incidents took place.

Immediately after she was given the information, Davis said she reviewed security footage from that time frame and saw the boy and the Roane Academy employee entering the laundry room and turning off the lights. She said they remained in the room alone for approximately five minutes before exiting.

Based on their demeanor, Davis said she believes both were engaging in sexual activity. The next morning, Davis said she told her supervisor about what the 17-year-old had reported to her and her concerns about the security footage to her supervisor, Tammy Proffitt.

Davis says Proffitt told her she reported the issues to the facility director at the time, Mark Akers. According to the lawsuit, the next day Proffitt was crying and very upset. Davis says Proffitt told her Akers said “mind your own damn business” in response to Proffitt’s report.

In July 2015, Davis said she contacted Tennessee Child Protective Services with concerns that her report was not being taken seriously by management.

The lawsuit also claims that Davis was made aware of TennCare being billed for treatment by unlicensed therapists. She claims managerial staff would have unlicensed therapists provide treatment to juvenile residents and then the academy’s clinical director would approve the progress notes, say the treatment was provided by licensed therapists and then bill TennCare for those services. She claims they violated Tennessee False Claims Act and the Tennessee Medicaid False Claims Act.

After reporting the incidents, Davis said her work hours were cut, she was put on paid administrative leave and she was eventually fired in March 2016.

The Department of Child Services said its special investigation unit looked into the allegations, but could not say more due to confidentiality laws. Tennessee Bureau of Investigation says their investigation remains active.

Omni Visions, the parent company of Roane Academy, released a statement saying:

Omni Visions works closely with its stakeholders to ensure the safety and security of the children and adolescents in our care.  All allegations of misconduct are taken seriously and immediately reported to the appropriate state agencies for investigation. Following this protocol, Omni Visions’ corporate office contacted the appropriate authorities upon becoming aware of these allegations.”

Since its founding, Omni Visions has operated with the utmost honesty and integrity.  While we cannot comment further due to pending litigation, we look forward to mounting a vigorous defense against what we consider to be baseless allegations.

WATE 6 On Your Side reported in October 2015 that Akers and Andrew both resigned from Roan Academy. In August 2015, five teens were charged with assault after Roane County Sheriff’s office said they assaulted four staff members at the facility, broke chairs and broke a fire alarm. The sheriff’s office said the fire alarm activated the facility’s doors to open so the teens could escape.

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