The defunct Miracle Meadows School in rural West Virginia has settled multiple lawsuits for a staggering $100 million. The settlements come in response to allegations from survivors of child abuse who claimed they endured widespread mistreatment, including physical and sexual assault, starvation, and solitary confinement at the now-closed Christian boarding school.
The survivors, dozens in number, brought forth claims that they were subjected to harrowing forms of abuse during their time at Miracle Meadows School, which catered to at-risk children aged 7 to 17 and those with learning disabilities. The institution operated from 1987 to 2014 under the auspices of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
The survivors’ legal representatives detailed that the abuse suffered by these students encompassed horrifying and unspeakable forms of mistreatment, both sexual and psychological, while residing at the school situated in the Appalachian community of Salem.
Investigations into the school began when a student ingested a cleaning substance and was subsequently hospitalized. This incident led to a deeper examination of the facility, uncovering a disturbing pattern of abuse. In August 2014, the school’s state education status was revoked, marking its eventual closure.
Co-founder Susan Gayle Clark pleaded guilty to child neglect charges in 2016, resulting in a six-month jail term and five years of probation. However, local authorities faced challenges as some students recanted their accusations after reuniting with their families, and certain staff members returned to their home countries before they could be interviewed.
The settlements reached in this case have now totaled a landmark $100 million, making it potentially the largest settlement of its kind in West Virginia. The settlement comes as a result of a consolidation of lawsuits filed against various parties associated with the school, including co-founder Susan Gayle Clark and the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Jesse Forbes, an attorney involved in the case, aptly remarked, “The abuses suffered by these children wouldn’t be believed in a Stephen King novel.” The survivors and their legal representatives hope that the settlement will serve as a small measure of justice for the immense suffering they endured while at Miracle Meadows School.