Health agency responds to suit alleging child assaulted by former worker
Azusa-based California Pediatric & Family Services responded Wednesday to a lawsuit alleging one of its former employees assaulted a special needs child and that some of his misconduct was recorded on video, saying management was “shocked and appalled” by what the images showed.
The Los Angeles County Superior Court lawsuit, filed Tuesday, alleges that the agency was negligent in its duty to protect its clients from injury at the hands of its workers, and continued to employ Kevin Yuen despite knowing he was a danger to the safety and well-being of its clients. Yuen and the company are both defendants in the suit.
Buchanan Public Relations issued a statement Wednesday on behalf of CAL-PEDS.
“We were shocked and appalled when we saw the video,” the statement read. “The employee in question, who had passed background checks, was terminated immediately, and we reported the incident to the appropriate authorities.”
The statement further stated that CAL-PEDS has never had a similar incident during 40 years of business and that the safety of those to which it offers services is the company’s highest priority.
“Our hearts go out to the (plaintiff’s) family,” the statement said.
The plaintiff, whose first name is Marcela, is a non-verbal 16-year-old girl with Dandy Walker Malformation Syndrome, autism and a brain shunt who had been receiving in-home behavioral therapy through CAL-PEDS. Yuen was Marcela’s behavioral therapist for about eight months when her mother began to notice bruising on her daughter’s neck and back and saw Yuen aggressively grab Marcela’s arms during one of their two-hour sessions in March 2021, the suit states.
Marcela’s mother also began to see behavioral changes in her daughter, such as flinching, covering her face and hitting herself, when Yuen was in their home, according to the suit.
Concerned about her daughter’s welfare and changed behavior, Marcela’s mother put a hidden video camera in their living room to record interactions between Yuen and the teen, the suit states.
Following a behavioral session on June 21, Marcela’s mother’s allegedly saw Yuen physically assaulting Marcela via the video. At one point, Yuen and Marcela are sitting on a couch when he punches her in the face, the suit states. Moments later, Yuen again punches Marcela in the face and checks his fist for any markings, then continues the session as if nothing had happened, according to the suit.
Marcela suffered severe and permanent injuries, the suit alleges.
Yuen was arrested in June and later pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor count of child endangerment, the suit states. He was sentenced to four years of probation, ordered not to harass or threaten anyone in the case and directed to complete a 52-week child abuse treatment program while refraining from working in child care while on probation, according to the suit.