Jury Awards $300K in Wyoming Youth Home Sex Lawsuit

November 14, 2011

A former resident of a youth home in Laramie, Wyoming, has been awarded $300,000 in his civil lawsuit stemming from a sex assault case involving the resident and a female counselor.

The Casper Star-Tribune reports that an Albany County jury sided with the former resident of the Cathedral Home for Children in Laramie. The lawsuit arose from a 2009 criminal case in which former counselor Katie Joseph was arrested for having a sexual relationship with the resident. She was 31; he was 17.

Joseph pleaded guilty in April 2009 to third-degree sexual assault of a minor. She was placed on six years of supervised probation and is currently living under supervision in Washington state.

The jury found that the defendants, who included the counselor, a director and another employee, failed to provide the accepted standard of care. The jury decision came Oct. 31.

According to court documents, Joseph was a counselor at the facility for troubled youth and had an office in the cottage where the resident lived.

The sexual relationship between Joseph and the boy began in March 2008 and continued into June of that year, according to an affidavit made public earlier.

The boy told Albany County sheriff’s investigators he had sex with Joseph in her office several times.

Sheriff’s office officials began their investigation in late August 2008 after learning about the relationship through the Wyoming Department of Family Services.

Joseph’s conditions for probation required her to receive recommended sex offender counseling, to abstain from alcohol and illegal drugs and to stay out of bars. She was also forbidden to have a police scanner.

Law enforcement officials said earlier that the Cathedral Home staff members and board cooperated with the investigation.

“We have let the judicial system work,” said Marilyn Engstrom, president of the Cathedral Home board.

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