Wyoming Boys' School Denies It Beats, Humiliates And Confines Teens

In response to a February lawsuit accusing Wyoming Boys' School of beating, confining and humiliating teens, the home for juvenile delinquents denied any wrongdoing Monday and wants the suit dismissed.

Clair McFarland

April 30, 20244 min read

The Wyoming Boys' School in Worland.
The Wyoming Boys' School in Worland. (Sletten Construction)

After three young men who had stints at the Wyoming Boys’ School launched a civil lawsuit accusing the school of confining, beating, humiliating and abusing them, the facility is denying the allegations and called part of the lawsuit legally inapplicable.

Blaise Chivers-King, Dylan Tolar (through his mother Debra Dever) and Charles “Rees” Karn together sued the Wyoming Boys’ School in Worland, umbrella agency Wyoming Department of Family Services (DFS), and 10 former and current employees in their individual capacities Feb. 26. The males sued Wyoming Boys' School Superintendent Dale Weber in his official capacity also.

The 53-page civil complaint claims the school’s employees subjected the males, in their boyhood stints at the school, to solitary confinement, verbal and physical abuse, and other cruelties.

All civil defendants are denying those claims, according to an answer to the complaint filed Monday.

“(We) deny that the Wyoming Boys’ School uses solitary confinement; deny that (the boys) were in solitary confinement … deny that Plaintiffs experienced serious deprivations of basic human needs,” the answer says. “(We) deny that Plaintiffs were deprived of their basic dignity and human decency … deny that Plaintiffs were subjected to cruel and unusual punishment.”

The answer also denies several of the former residents’ more specific claims, such as that one boy was unnecessarily denied his leg brace, or that one boy was left to die when he allegedly tried to kill himself.

It admits the less-inflammatory tenets in the lawsuit, such as statements that the boys had mental health conditions, that the school is a public entity, and that at least one of the boys was detained according to a “detention status” policy tailored to address immediate threats of harm and detain boys “for the least amount of time necessary.”

The answer contains dozens of statements in a line-by-line response to the plaintiffs’ original accusations denying that the school uses solitary confinement. It counters claims of indifference to Karn’s sprained wrist by saying Karn was repeatedly evaluated and given treatment; and it denies that Chivers-King was given an illegal dose of a new medication.

State Says That’s The Wrong Law

The school is also asking U.S. District Court Judge Scott Skavdahl to dismiss the claims that individual workers violated part of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act.

Wyoming federal courts have exempted individuals from civil claims under those laws before, since they center around public entities or public programs, says a separate Monday filing.

Plus, Defenses

Lastly, the answer offers nine affirmative defenses. Those are:

  • That the complaint doesn’t connect its claims to law in a way that can yield relief.

  • That those sued may have qualified, governmental and/or sovereign immunity.

  • That where the claims are barred by any statutes of limitation, those have expired.

  • That the claims may be barred by the plaintiffs’ unreasonable delay, waiver of the right to sue, the plaintiffs’ own misdeeds; or they may be precluded by earlier cases or laws.

  • That the boys’ injuries are related to circumstances outside the defendants’ alleged conduct.

  • That the plaintiffs failed to mitigate their own alleged injuries.

  • That the alleged damages were caused by people or events outside this lawsuit.

  • If the court makes the defendants pay punitive, or punishing, damages to the defendants, that would violate the defendants’ right against excessive fines and due process.

  • That there may be other immunities to which the defendants are entitled.

The boys’ home, its sued employees and DFS are asking the court to dismiss the lawsuit permanently.

Wyoming Senior Assistant Attorney General Debra Hulett filed the Monday responses on the civil defendants’ behalf.

Clair McFarland can be reached at clair@cowboystatedaily.com.

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Clair McFarland

Crime and Courts Reporter