Lawsuit claims National City treatment facility did not protect young patients
Robert Poizner convicted of molesting patients
Last Updated: 51 days ago
NATIONAL CITY, Calif. - A lawsuit has been filed against a treatment facility in National City after one of its volunteer counselors was convicted of sexually abusing young patients.
Robert Poizner was convicted of 24 counts of sex abuse against children, and two of his victims were 13-year-old patients at Pacific Health Systems, a facility that treats a variety of mental health issues and additions.
According to court documents obtained by 10News, Poizner was a volunteer at PHS and was supposed to be taking teenage boys to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. Instead, he took them back to his apartment and molested them, the documents stated.
"The program requires for them to get an AA sponsor … We do a lot of these cases; I've seen these predators, it's unbelievable. They know where to go and which kids they can groom. These are vulnerable kids and they are at their most vulnerable state, and PHS had an obligation to keep these kids safe and they failed in this regard," said attorney Stephen Estey, who is now representing one of Poizner's teenage victims.
The suit alleges PHS did not do enough to protect its young patients.
Estey said by law, the facility is required to conduct criminal background screenings on anyone working or volunteering with children. Poizner had several felony convictions ranging from burglaries to three "peeping Tom" charges, where a judge had ordered him to a year in a sex offender program.
"If the facility uses volunteers, they are obligated to screen them and supervise them too, and they did neither," said Estey.
According to court documents, Poizner offered the boys cigarettes and pornography. He lured the boys to his home, where he gained access to two of their friends, who he also sexually assaulted, the documents said.
Estey said when the boys' parents raised concerns to PHS about Poizner spending so much time with young boys, but their concerns were dismissed.
"They were told to back off. One parent was told [to] quit being a helicopter parent and let us do their job … if you want your kid to get sober, this is part of the process," said Estey.
The suit also claims fellow counselors had suspicions as well, but nothing was ever reported.
"The counselors that ran this thing, they witnessed Poizner hugging and kissing on the boys in the parking lot and didn't say anything to parents," said Estey.
Poizner was sentenced to 75 years to life in prison.
The civil lawsuit against PHS, which is seeking an unspecified amount of damages, will get underway next week.
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