A federal judge last week dismissed a lawsuit filed by a man earlier this year alleging that his son had been raped at the Special K Ranch near Columbus.
In her Nov. 25 order, Judge Susan Watters dismissed the plaintiff's civil complaint after he fired his lawyers and he did not obtain new legal representation or respond to subsequent court filings.
"The court has considered the availability of less drastic sanctions, such as money sanctions, but given (the plaintiff's) seeming lack of interest in prosecuting his case, the court is unconvinced money sanctions would serve any purpose," Watters wrote.
The suit was filed May 1 against Special K Ranch, an organization that operates a Christian home for the developmentally disabled. The Gazette is not naming the plaintiff to avoid identifying an alleged rape victim.
According to the complaint, the man’s son began staying at the ranch part-time beginning in the spring of 2017, while he and his biological mother lived in Columbus. Upon a visit to the nonprofit facility, the father noticed that the boy “acted unusually, being (very) quiet, unwilling to change his clothes or bathe, and isolate himself,” the complaint states.
The departure from his normal behavior had also been noticed by a private counselor, who suspected he had been sexually assaulted, according to the complaint.
A subsequent medical exam determined the victim had been raped, the plaintiff alleged.
Shortly after the complaint was filed, the ranch's executive director, Mike Oberg, denied the allegations and said he was caught off guard by the accusation, and said it was the only such claim the organization had encountered in its 32 years.
“It’s just really bizarre, and that’s all I can say,” Oberg told The Gazette at the time.
Speaking by phone Tuesday morning, Oberg's attorney, William Mattix, said he and his client were satisfied with Watters' order.
"The Special K Ranch strenuously disputed the allegations in the complaint and felt they were baseless," Mattix said.
Veronica Procter and Jon Moyers, the attorneys representing the plaintiff in the case, filed almost no paperwork until withdrawing from the case in August. In the motion to withdraw, Moyers stated they had been fired by the plaintiff and he had not responded to follow-up messages sent to his address.
Because the plaintiff failed to retain new counsel within the next 60 days, Watters ordered the case dismissed without prejudice, meaning that the complaint could be re-filed in the future.