Benahdam Hurt alleges that a social worker made him her “sex slave” for almost three years while he was a patient at the Elgin Mental Health Center in Illinois, according to a lawsuit filed in November.
Now that woman, 53-year-old Christy Lenhardt, faces 14 felony charges after police say she had a sexual relationship with Hurt, even though she knew it was illegal. The Kane County State Attorney’s Office announced Thursday that Lenhardt faces eight counts of sexual misconduct with a person with disabilities and six counts of official misconduct.
She was arrested Thursday, police say, and posted bail of $100,000.
In his lawsuit, Hurt says that Lenhardt would often have intimate encounters with him in his bedroom at the mental health center or in her office, according to the Chicago Tribune. She would let Hurt, who has schizophrenia, look at other people’s medical files, he alleges, and also shower him with gifts.
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Police say that the inappropriate contact happened between November 2014 and July 2017, according to the Daily Herald. She resigned from working at the health center in August.
Hurt’s mother, D’Anntanette Lee, said she suspected something was awry at her son’s facility.
“I visit my son every day every weekend, and I knew something wasn’t right,” she told WGN9. “I would hear things, and people would slip papers to me.”
Hurt is not the only patient to allege that Lenhardt pursued a sexual relationship with him. Mark Owens, sent to the Elgin facility after he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, said in a lawsuit that the social worker made sexual advancements toward him during their meetings in her office. Owens feared he would be “drugged into a zombie state” if he refused, according to WGN9, and felt he had “no choice but to comply.”
Those allegations — and Hurt’s accusation that Lenhardt helped a registered sex offender named Angelo Rotunno escape the facility and flee to Europe on a plane in 2006 — aren’t included in the police charges, as noted by The Chicago Tribune. A state attorney did, however, bring up Hurt’s accusation about Rotunno’s disappearance to a judge in court Thursday.
Lindhardt is due back in court on April 20, according to police. She can face up to five years in prison if found guilty but could also be given probation.
Randy Kretchmar, an attorney for both Hurt and Owens, said that insufficient training enabled the abuse to go on for too long. Both of his clients’ lawsuits are seeking $10,000 in damages.
“The system is responsible,” Kretchmar he told The Chicago Tribune. “At the very least we have to demand some kind of policy change to prevent this from happening again.”