ActivePaper Archive Ex-state ward sues DCYF for child abuse - The Providence Journal, 4/8/2011


Ex-state ward sues DCYF for child abuse

Nicholas Alahverdian, now 23, a ward of the state for 15 months beginning in March 2002, alleges he was sexually and physically abused while in state care

PROVIDENCE —A former State House page who spent his youth as a ward of the state is suing the Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth and Families in U.S. District Court charging that he suffered years of abuse while in state care.

Nicholas Alahverdian, now 23, alleges that during a 15-month period beginning in March 2002, he was placed in a series of “night-to-night placements” at temporary shelters around the state where he was repeatedly assaulted, physically and sexually, by employees and clients. He was 14 at the time and worked as a page and a legislative aide for the state House of Representatives. (At the time, his legal name was Nicholas Rossi. He has since changed his last name to Alahverdian, that of his biological father.)

Alahverdian testified before legislative committees about the alleged abuse, he says in the suit, until he was advised that he could not be both a lobbyist and a state employee. He says he resigned from his legislative job in March 2003.

The DCYF subsequently transferred Alahverdian to residential facilities in Florida and Nebraska, the suit says, where he claims that he was further abused and neglected, and prohibited from communicating with the media, lawyers, the state child advocate and his caseworker. He was eventually returned to Rhode Island in 2005 and treated for two weeks at Bradley Hospital, the suit says, before being released to an independent living program.

Alahverdian, who is representing himself in the suit, says he suffered flashbacks, nightmares and chronic anxiety as a result of the time he spent at the facilities in Florida and Nebraska.

Kevin Aucoin, the DCYF’s interim director, said that he could not comment on pending litigation.

Defendants named in the suit, filed Feb. 25 and amended on April 4, include the states of Rhode Island, Florida and Nebraska, six residential facilities and 18 individuals, including state administrators, lawyers, doctors and social workers.

Alahverdian recently formed a nonprofit group, NexusGovernment, and has been lobbying for legislation to protect children in DCYF care. / 277-7335