KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WZZM) -- A Kalamazoo judge ruled today Bronson Athletic Club cannot be held liable for the "unforeseen actions'' of an employee, who admitted to molesting a seven-year-old girl at its summer camp.
The assault occurred in August, 2012, when the girl and at least nine other children were left alone with a 16-year-old counselor for about two hours, a lawsuit filed by the girl's mother claims.
Her attorney, Ven Johnson, said the case is by no means over. He'll submit briefs to the court asking that the civil suit proceed based on "negligent training and supervision'' of counselors at the day camp.
"We will continue to fight for this little girl and her family,'' Johnson said. "Bronson needs to be held accountable for their callous, indifferent behavior.''
The summer camp was unlicensed and has since shut down. Bronson Athletic Club is operated by Bronson Healthcare. Calls seeking comment were not returned.
Bronson should be liable for negligent hiring, training and supervision of the 16-year-old counselor who was to supervise the children while they waited for rides home, Johnson said.
"No one from Bronson . . .checked on him during the entire post-camp,'' the lawsuit claims.
Johnson contends the teen's actions were foreseeable because he had been previously disciplined for improper physical contact with female campers. When the girl's mother arrived at 4:30 p.m., she walked around the gymnasium for several minutes without seeing her daughter, the suit claims.
"She finally asked some of the other children where the adults were,'' Johnson said. "The other children said the counselor was in the back closet. After more time passed, some of the children went over to the closet and forcefully knocked on the metal door. (The counselor) finally opened the door and walked out and the girl followed him.''
Bronson Athletic Club had four counselors working the camp during the day, but scheduled only one counselor to work the post-camp, he said.
"After the other counselors had left, the teen lured the girl into a storage closet in the back of the gymnasium'' and sexually assaulted her, the suit claims.
The boy was charged as a juvenile with second-degree criminal sexual conduct. He pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of fourth degree criminal sexual conduct.
Less than two weeks after the incident, the Michigan Department Human Services' Bureau of Children and Adult Licensing notified Bronson Athletic Club it was operating without a license. The camp closed that day and has not reopened, the suit claims.
Attorney Victoria Marks, who is working with Johnson on the lawsuit, says Bronson claims it is not responsible for what went on.
"It was a routine thing for them to schedule only one counselor to watch 10 children,'' Marks said. "It's just absolutely a disgusting practice to have a minor in charge of supervising 10 young children without anyone checking in on him, anyone supervising him.''