Another victim comes forward, claims physical and sexual abuse at group home run by Catholic Diocese of Cleveland

Published: Mar. 23, 2023 at 10:42 PM EDT
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PARMA, Ohio (WOIO) - Earlier this week four women filed lawsuits against the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland, Catholic Charities, Cuyahoga County Children and Family Services, and Parmadale Family services. The allegations are horrific.

On Thursday 19 News tracked down yet another woman who claims she was also a victim of physical mental and sexual abuse.

“It was very hard for me,” said Cherice Peoples. “When I got out, I almost committed suicide.”

When Cherice Peoples was just 16 years old, she was sent to Parmadale Family Services, a group home for troubled children run by the Catholic Diocese. She didn’t know it then but the next year and a half of her life would be a living nightmare.

“They would have us fight each other to entertain them and then they had they favorites so if you was one of the people that wasn’t they favorite you was getting beat on,” Peoples explained.

Peoples also claims staff overmedicated them, beat them, and forcefully restrained them.

“I have nightmares about being restrained,” Peoples admitted. “I have nightmares about fighting them, girls.”

While no one ever raped her. Peoples claims she was sexually assaulted, more than once.

“They would have us in a line going to lunch or something and a male staff would grab across your breast or grab on your butt,” she said.

Four women filed lawsuits against the Catholic Diocese so far. The disturbing allegations include sexual abuse by employees and a priest.

One woman claims she was forced to have sex with other children while other employees watched.

The women also reported being forced to fight, name-calling, and physical abuse.

The lawsuit claims the abuse spanned from 1961 to the early 2000s.

Peoples was there from 2000 to 2001.

“So, they’re always like, ‘You’re fat, you’re ugly, you will never make it out of here. You will always be here like they just made me feel like I will always be there,” Peoples said. “So, I always felt like I would be there until I’m like 25 or something that’s how they made it seem to us.”

After learning about the death of 17-year-old Faith Finley, a girl who choked and suffocated after she was restrained by Parmadale workers in 2008 Peoples tracked down her own file. Her paperwork shows she was admitted to the facility in May of 2000.

“One day I got restrained so bad and like the 17-year-old girl that couldn’t breathe that was me and how they had the arms going all the way up your back yeah it was intense,” Peoples said. “Yeah, you would be in pain, you might have bruises, but they had their own doctors so it ain’t like we going to the hospital to report our injuries.”

Peoples plans on filing a lawsuit of her own as soon as possible.

“I feel like they opening the wound I closed years ago,” she said. “I feel like the lawsuit is okay because we getting heard but I cry a lot and since I’ve seen this story air I haven’t got no sleep, you know I’m reliving the moment of Parmadale something I thought I’d never have to do.”

Parmadale closed in 2014 following allegations that a former employee had a sexual relationship with a 13-year-old girl. Cassondra Goodson was sentenced to 44 years in prison for having sex with two underage girls, ages 13 and 15.

“It took years like after I got out of Parmadale,” Peoples said. “It took years for me to love myself you know I mean I didn’t really start loving myself until my 30s.”

19 News reached out to the Catholic Diocese. They called the abuse of a child a “terrible sin” and said they take these kinds of allegations seriously.