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Family of sexual assault, suicide victim file wrongful death lawsuit against group home

Lawsuit claims employees refused to perform CPR

Family of sexual assault, suicide victim file wrongful death lawsuit against group home

MADISON, Wis. - A Marshall family is suing employees of a now-closed group home, claiming they were "deliberately indifferent" and negligent to a 17-year-old sexual assault victim who died of suicide in the home in 2016. 

The family of 17-year-old Breyanna Kalk filed a federal lawsuit earlier this month against Orion Family Services, which operated the Spohn Avenue House for Girls in 2016.  

Kalk was the previously unnamed victim in a brutal rape case in a Wisconsin Department of Corrections halfway house. A jury Thursday found Nathan Thompson, the final of four suspects, guilty of second-degree sexual assault and multiple counts of bail jumping.  Thompson, as well as registered sex offenders Stephon Hiler, Reginald Patton and James Phillips were all found guilty of sexual assault charges in the case. 

News 3 had reported on the home, and found that the DOC had not regularly monitored the home where Kalk was taken and subsequently repeatedly raped.  The house was shut down by the DOC, but homes remain throughout the state where sex offenders are located for emergency housing once they leave prison.  

Following the sexual assault, Kalk took her own life inside the Spohn Avenue home. 

News 3 has not previously named Kalk as she was a minor and sexual assault victim. The Kalk family attorney, Bob Gingras, told News 3 they included her name in the court filing deliberately because they no longer wanted to keep her identity a secret.  

 

In the federal lawsuit filing, the Kalk family claims that Orion employees Younin Choi, Kate Ristow and Kristi Buske were "deliberately indifferent" to Kalk and negligent in their treatment of her.  The lawsuit claims employees denied Kalk a visit with her family for the first time in four months following a violation of policies in the group home for alcohol use.  

Kalk was required to stay in the house and the lawsuit claims a protocol should have had her on 15-minute checks by Choi, which weren't done.  Ristow later found Kalk had hanged herself in her closet.

"Ristow did not check to see if Breyanna was alive, nor did she attempt to cut Breyanna down or support her," the lawsuit claims.  The employees ultimately called 911. 

"The 911 operator instructed Risow and Choi to engage in CPR," the lawsuit claims.  "Both of them refused to provide such aid, in spite of being trained to perform it."

Emergency medical services officials said Kalk was still alive when they arrived at Spohn Avenue, but she later died at the hospital. 

News 3 reached out to officials at Orion Family Services.  They did not immediately return a request for comment. 

Gingras said the family is also "actively investigating" a potential lawsuit against the Department of Corrections for the circumstances of the sexual assault. 
 


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