BRENTWOOD — A 24-year-old Lee man has filed a lawsuit against a residential care corporation and a nonprofit group, claiming that workers failed to protect him against being sexually abused by a former care worker, John Riley.
Riley, 41, of Milton, is already heading to trial April 7 in Rockingham County Superior Court on five charges including kidnapping and aggravated felonious sexual assault for allegedly assaulting another patient on Nov. 2, 2012, according to prosecutors.
In that case, Riley is accused of forcing a 35-year-old man into a sex act following a Halloween-themed dance hosted at Living Innovations offices in Portsmouth. Riley has pleaded not guilty and remains free on bail.
The civil lawsuit was filed by the 24-year-old's mother, who serves as his legal guardian, according to their attorney, Peter Hutchins.
Hutchins said in court papers that his client's son was diagnosed with autism and also received services from Living Innovations, which employed Riley. The services were arranged through Community Partners of Strafford County Foundation, according to the lawsuit.
"Over the course of time, Riley undertook a course of action to build the trust and confidence," in the young man, Hutchins said in the lawsuit. The alleged abuse began shortly afterward.
Hutchins said in court papers that the young man first disclosed to a worker at Community Partners of Strafford County on June 7, 2011, that he was being sexually abused by Riley. But the complaint was ultimately determined to be "unfounded" after a brief investigation by a Community Partners coordinator, the lawsuit claims.
"This investigation was inadequate and resulted in a final decision that (his) allegation of sexual misconduct against Riley was 'unfounded'," Hutchins said in the lawsuit.
He said that the young man then decided not to pursue the complaint "to avoid further shame and embarrassment."
Riley had been removed as the man's day care staffer, but was not terminated by Living Innovations, the lawsuit claims. The young man was still "forced to see and be in the company of Riley at the Living Innovations offices, and at parties, dances, functions and other activities put on by Living Innovations for its clients," the lawsuit says.
Riley was arrested by Portsmouth police a year later for allegedly having sexual contact with a 35-year-old patient. The 24-year-old patient learned of Riley's arrest last January, the lawsuit says.
In his criminal case, Riley's lawyer, Lincoln Soldati, recently won the approval of a judge to obtain a forensic evaluation of the victim.
Riley faces up to 10 to 20 years in state prison if he is convicted of the sexual assault charges. The kidnapping carries a potential 3½- to 7-year prison term.