Mother sues after workers physically, verbally abuse child on camera

Mother sues after social workers physically, verbally abuse child on camera

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - A mother said workers she called to help counsel her son attacked him both physically and verbally. Now she’s suing, and she hopes it doesn’t happen to any other children.

As a single mother, Quishandra Walker said she sought out help for her 14-year-old son. When he had behavioral issues, she said she would call the “social worker” at Empowerment Behavioral Services, and they would respond to talk to him.

“He doesn’t talk in front of me because he feels like he’s not going to open up, so I feel he needs a man’s perspective and you’re going to counsel him in the right way,” said Walker.

When her son had a run-in with his cousin Dec. 29, she called the company. But then she received a call that shocked her.

“They’re not supposed to put his hands on them. They’re cursing him out and sent me a video clip,” said Walker.

Walker’s sister said two men claiming to be “the mental health people” came to her doorstep to talk to Walker’s son, but instead verbally abused him and hit him, and it was all captured by a doorbell camera.

“He stood there listening and rolled his eyes, and he said, ‘You’re standing there rolling your eyes,’” said Walker. “I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t sleep knowing if he did this to my child, what other children they doing it to?” said Walker.

Walker’s attorney, Juan LaFonta, said the two men in the video are Empowerment Behavioral Services counselor Rommel Holland and his supervisor, Robert Stanley. According to the Louisiana State Board of Social Work Examiners, neither is listed as having current licenses.

LaFonta said they’ve filed charges with the NOPD and filed a formal complaint with the Louisiana Department of Health. He says no one should be allowed to counsel a child without a license.

“For the rest of his life he’s going to have to remember how people he trusted and let in his circle and physically and emotionally abused him and that’s not something we’re going to tolerate,” said LaFonta.

Walker said according to her son, this is the first time it has ever happened.

“There’s a way you can talk to a child and get through to a child without cursing him and putting your hands on him,” she said.

Now that her son’s trying to deal with the incident, she hopes he understands it’s not his fault.

It’s unclear if Empowerment Behavioral Services is an independent company or if they’re contracted with the state Department of Health.

FOX 8 reached out to Empowerment Behavioral Services but they did not return calls. We also reached out to the NOPD to see if they’re considering charges, but have not yet heard back.

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