LAKEWOOD, Colo. — The Betty K. Marler Center in Lakewood touts itself as a place that provides a nurturing environment for troubled youth, but a Department of Human Services report paints a completely different picture.
The facility is operated by Rite of Passage, which operates four youth centers in Colorado.
The FOX31 Problem Solvers learned a combination of complaints and a routine licensing inspection found several incidents that involved unsupervised residents.
The report says one youth got on top of the roof, ran toward the edge and threatened to jump off and deliberately land on her head. The staff managed to get on the roof and get the resident down.
Investigators say other residents removed their shirts and were sexually fondling each other and kissing. Several had red marks on their necks.
The report also shows a Marler Center member grabbed a youth around her neck and threw her to the ground.
Residents who live just yards away from the facility said they are shocked to learn of what was happening.
“Every once and awhile, we would see kids playing around out there. That’s about it. It’s been really quiet,” one resident said.
A FOX31 Problem Solvers investigation done in 2014 found the vast majority of teenage girls at the center were prescribed anti-psychotic medications at a pace far exceeding other youth corrections facilities.
Investigators say it’s enough to declare that the center presents a substantial danger to public health, safety and welfare.
The Department of Human Services said all of the young residents have been moved to safe environments. A hearing will be held to determine whether the center will reopen.