Judge to rule whether Bronson liable for sex crime

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KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — A judge will decide whether Bronson Healthcare should be held accountable for a sex crime against a child that happened at its facility.

In August 2012, a 7-year-old girl was attending a day camp at Bronson Athletic Club when she was sexually assaulted  by a 16-year-old camp staff member in a closet. In March 2013, the 16-year-old pleaded guilty to fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct, according to the Kalamazoo County Prosecutor’s Office.

But the girl’s mother Kristen Smith said that’s not enough. She wants everyone involved in running the day camp to be held responsible.

“It’s been awful. It’s been a living nightmare. And we’re strong and resilient, and we’ve got a lot of love and support, and we’ll get through it and we’ll be stronger on the outside,” Smith said.

During a Monday hearing, Bronson attorneys told a judge the organization should not be liable for the assault. A judge did not immediately make a decision about whether Bronson Healthcare should be held accountable, but is expected to hand down a ruling by the end of the month as to whether the case will go before a jury.

She said the incident changes the way she vets activities for her child.

“For all the parents who are looking for summer camps and summer opportunities and spring break opportunities for the kids, I do not allow my daughter to go to any camp any more without asking five basic questions.”

Those five questions, she said:

  • How do you select and screen your employees? Do you do background checks?
  • What are your guidelines on interactions between counselors and camper?
  • How do you monitor employee behavior?
  • How do you ensure a safe environment?
  • Do you have a child abuse prevention program for your staff?
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