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Teens sue over abuse at shelter

Teens sue over abuse at shelter

Action was expected as statute of limitations for crimes nears

An expected civil lawsuit has been filed by families of five teenage victims of former Community Works youth shelter workers convicted of sex crimes, court records show.

The five teens ' three boys and two girls ' are seeking as-yet unspecified damages suffered when they were sexually abused by Youth Diagnostic Shelter workers Desiree Seiver and Wayne Gatrel, said Kelly Andersen, a Medford lawyer representing the youth. The lawsuit was filed Oct. — in Jackson County Circuit Court.

There are multiple reasons to provide them compensation for what has been taken from them, said Andersen.

A court official was reviewing the lawsuit Monday to consider whether to keep the names of the victims confidential; details of the suit were not available.

The teens are among eight victims of the youth shelter scandal in which Seiver and Gatrel were convicted of sexually abusing young people in their care between October 2000 and March 2001.

Seiver, 23, of Central Point, pleaded guilty and is serving more than four years in state prison for allowing drug use and having sex with six clients, including boys as young as 15, at the Talent shelter.

Gatrel, 44, of Medford, is serving more than five years after conviction of sex abuse and racketeering charges at the shelter, including sex acts involving girls as young as 16. An appeal of his case is pending.

Attempts to seek an out-of-court settlement with lawyers for Community Works' insurance company have not yet been successful, said Andersen. He advised his clients to file the lawsuit now, before a two-year statute of limitations ran out.

In addition to Community Works, the lawsuit was believed to name Jackson County, the city of Medford, the Oregon Youth Authority and the Oregon Department of Administrative Services.

Arnie Green, director of Community Works, said Monday he wasn't surprised that the suit was filed, and added that he couldn't comment on pending litigation.

The sex abuse allegations forced closure of the youth shelter, which has since reopened under county operation.

Reach reporter JoNel Aleccia at 776-4465, or e-mail