A Caldwell County man is claiming that a house parent sexually assaulted him almost every day, sometimes three to four times a day, for five years in the early 1970s, starting when he was 12, according to a lawsuit recently filed in Mecklenburg Superior Court.
This is the third lawsuit filed against the Children's Home, now known as Crossnore School & Children's Home, in Winston-Salem and the Western North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church. The Conference operated the Children's Home in the 1970s. The lawsuit was filed Sept. 18 in Mecklenburg Superior Court.
All three lawsuits focus on Bruce Jackson "Jack" Biggs and his wife, Beatrice Hatcher Biggs, who worked as house parents at the Anna Haines Cottage, one of 12 at the Children's Home. The lawsuits said that they worked at the Children's Home from 1966 to 1975. The lawsuits allege that they were fired because of "their demented and perverted sexually abusive assaults upon children." They were never criminally charged. Jack Biggs died in 2015, and Beatrice Biggs, 82, lives in a nursing home, according to the lawsuits.
Richard Serbin, attorney for the Caldwell County man, said in a news release that "the State entrusted this child and countless others to the Children's Home for an education, guidance and for their safety ... These evil and deranged house parents were unsupervised, and the children were essentially abandoned with no hope of help and nowhere to turn."
Attorneys for Crossnore and the Western Conference have filed motions to dismiss the first lawsuit on the grounds that a new law, SAFE Child Act, has deprived them of their constitutional rights to due process. The law eliminated certain statutes of limitations that had prevented alleged victims of child sexual abuse from filing civil claims.
G. Gray Wilson, attorney for Crossnore, declined to comment Tuesday. Ashley Prickett Cuttino, attorney for the Western Conference, also declined to comment.
In the latest lawsuit, the Caldwell County man, who is now in his 60s, and his brother became wards of the state of North Carolina in 1967 and were sent to live in foster homes. In 1969, when he was 11, he and his brother were sent to live at the Children's Home. The man lived in Duke Cottage but was assigned to work in the kitchen at the Anna Haines Cottage, where the Biggses were house parents. Jack Biggs also worked as a substitute preacher, leading church services when the regular preacher was out, the lawsuit said.
Starting in 1970, when he was 12, Beatrice Biggs began sexually assaulting the boy, the lawsuit said. According to the lawsuit, the abuse began one day after he finished working in the kitchen. Beatrice Biggs offered to rub liniment on the boy's shoulder, which the lawsuit said was sore from playing football. Then Beatrice Biggs, the lawsuit said, brought the boy to her bedroom.
"After the aforementioned first incident of sexual assault, Beatrice Biggs took Plaintiff to her bedroom on an almost daily basis to perform oral sex, sometimes up to three or four times a day, which continued for approximately five years," the lawsuit said. "Jack Biggs occasionally watched the sexual assaults perpetrated by Beatrice Biggs on Plaintiff."
The lawsuit said the sexual abuse happened on a regular basis from 1970 to 1975 and that the man believes other children at Haines Cottage were sexually abused. The lawsuit said that the boy was threatened with punishment if he told anyone.
Another man, who lives in North Carolina, filed a lawsuit alleging that the Biggses sexually abused him repeatedly. The lawsuit alleged that the house parents encouraged the plaintiff and other boys to touch the genitals of several girls. The man filed the first lawsuit in April.
In a second lawsuit, another man who now lives in Georgia alleged that Beatrice Biggs sexually assaulted him repeatedly when he was a boy. He said that while on a trip to Clear Water Beach, Fla., Beatrice Biggs fondled the boy under a blanket and that she raped the plaintiff several times a week at Haines Cottage.
Like the previous lawsuits, the latest one also alleges that officials at the Children's Home failed to supervise the Biggses and did not report the abuse to authorities. The lawsuit said that the Children's Home lacked a case worker or a social worker who could check on the boy, and the superintendent of the Children's Home worked in a separate building and never visited the cottages.
"Plaintiff and the other residents had little to no contact with the outside world as all daily activities occurred on the 1000-acre campus, including school and church services," the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit is seeking at least $100,000 in compensatory damages as well as an unknown amount in punitive damages.
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