Lawsuit against Boys Town claims inappropriate touching, alleges sexual assault

Published: Oct. 18, 2021 at 10:25 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Last December, a 6 News investigation revealed startling allegations of inappropriate touching by a former Boys Town staff member. Now a lawsuit has been filed alleging Boys Town is responsible for the actions of its employees.

Boys Town is known for giving the youth a comforting environment but Shaelyn Nielsen alleges that at 17 years old in 2017, one family teacher made her feel uncomfortable.

“Where we would have to turn around and his back would be facing his front so my rear end was pressed up against his genitalia and he would reach his arms around and grab my breasts and push his private areas into my butt,” said Nielsen.

In December 2020, another former Boys Town youth said at 16 years old five years ago, she had an encounter with the same family teacher.

“I remember being in his office by myself and he turned me around and gave me a hug and he had his penis up against my butt,” said the former boys town youth.

Three former Boys Town youth learned of each other’s experience with one recognizable phrase.

“Um, Special Hugs,” said Nielsen.

Omaha Attorney Rob Schaefer has filed a lawsuit.

“We believe you and this is going to be a tremendous step in the healing process,” said Schaefer.

The lawsuit names Boys Town and the family teacher, the teacher won’t be identified because he has not been charged with a crime. Law enforcement didn’t find enough evidence to prosecute beyond a reasonable doubt.

“It’s kind of a less standard in civil court where it’s a preponderance of evidence which means there’s more evidence for than against,” Schaefer.

Boys Town says it promptly notified law enforcement openly cooperated in their investigation and those authorities decided not to file criminal charges. 6 News asked Boys Town for a response and they sent a statement that reads in part:

“We take swift aggressive action when we become aware of inappropriate conduct.”

Boys Town

Boys Town says in this case, we immediately terminated the individual who had sent inappropriate text messages to one accuser then a teenager. Two messages use words with sexual connotations.

“They’re pretty damning,” said Schaefer.

Two of the three accusers still in Nebraska have filed the suit.

“When we compared the stories it kind of made us feel like we had more of a chance to get justice because one person telling their story is a lot less effective than three women telling their story,” said Nielsen.

The lawsuit seeks damages for the plaintiff’s physical and emotional pain.

“It’s never been about the money, I just don’t want anybody to get hurt,” said Nielsen.

The former family teacher didn’t return our messages but his wife who is also a former family teacher at Boys Town disputes the allegations of inappropriate conduct by her husband.

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