Development Homes sued for negligence for alleged assault at group home
A civil lawsuit filed in Grand Forks County District Court accuses a developmental housing nonprofit of housing a known sexual predator with a disabled man, who was raped, and attempting to cover up their actions.
The lawsuit, filed Dec.12 by the mother of the victim, charges Development Homes Inc., its CEO, Grand Forks City Council member Sandi Marshall; and other DHI employees with negligence, failure to provide a safe environment, violating the victim’s rights and inflicting emotional distress.
The Herald does not typically identify victims of sexual assault and has decided not to publish the name of the plaintiff. Daniel Traynor, attorney for the plaintiff, declined to comment when reached by the Herald Friday.
Marshall and DHI are denying the claims levied in the suit.
“The accusations are entirely false and based upon information provided by a former disgruntled employee,” Marshall said in a statement. “We will aggressively defend our employees and the company.“
According to the suit, a 40-year-old disabled man with the mental capacity of a 2-year-old, had been a client of DHI since he was 11. In January 2016, he was given a new roommate. That new roommate was documented sexually assaulting a woman at another DHI home in December 2015, according to the suit. Marshall and DHI concluded he could not stay with a female roommate and decided to move him in with the victim.
“The then-manager and then-staff at DHI were primarily concerned with (new roommate’s) history as a sexual predator and his known physical aggression,” and objected to the move, the suit states.
The victim’s guardian was not made aware of the new roommate’s history of assault, the suit claims.
Once the new roommate moved in, the suit claims DHI removed a lock on the victim’s bedroom door without the permission of his guardian.
DHI also allegedly put a female manager, Konah Zunugo, who is a defendant in the suit, in the home overnight who was not informed to the new roommate’s past behavior.
On May 22, 2016, Zunugo entered the victim’s room at 3:30 a.m. and witnessed the roommate engaging in sexual intercourse, according to the suit. Because of the victim's mental capacity, he is unable to consent to sexual behaviors. The victim also reportedly had a broken shoulder at the time.
Zunugo reported the assault to DHI and completed an event report, according to the suit, which claims medical care was not provided for the victim at the time.
The victim’s guardian was not informed until noon the next day and law enforcement was not immediately contacted, the lawsuit claims.
When the victim’s guardian asked for a law enforcement investigation, the suit claims DHI and Marshall tried to cover up the crime by asking employee Mark Indvik to become the assaulter's guardian to prevent police from interviewing him.
Mark and Amelia Indvik, listed as defendants in the suit, did apply for emergency guardian status of the alleged assault on May 26, 2016, according to court records. They were awarded emergency guardian status on May 27. The suit states law enforcement tried to interview the alleged assaulter that day, and Mark Indvik asserted his new dependent’s right to remain silent.
The suit claims Marshall told DHI staffers to not cooperate with the investigation and encouraged them not to talk to anyone outside of the “DHI family.”
Marshall did not respond to requests for comment Friday. An attorney for Marshall, DHI, Zuonugo and the Indvik’s was not listed in court dockets.
No hearings have been set in the case.