A woman has filed a lawsuit alleging that her parents sexually abused her, as well as several boys who stayed at the Children's Home in Winston-Salem in the 1970s.
The woman's parents served as house parents at the Anna Haines Cottage, one of 12 living quarters at the Children's Home, which is now known as Crossnore School and Children's Home.
The lawsuit, filed by attorneys for Lisa Biggs-Fore, is the fifth one against Crossnore and the Western North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church in the past year. The lawsuit was filed in Mecklenburg Superior Court because the Western North Carolina Conference, which operated the Children's Home in the 1970s, has headquarters in Huntersville. The other lawsuits were filed by four men who said that former house parents Bruce Jackson "Jack" Biggs and his wife, Beatrice Hatcher Biggs, sexually assaulted them repeatedly when they were boys living at Haines Cottage in the 1970s.
Richard Serbin, one of Biggs-Fore's attorneys, said the lawsuit was mailed overnight Jan. 5 to Mecklenburg Superior Court and that it may take a few days for clerks to record the lawsuit as filed. G. Gray Wilson, an attorney for Crossnore, said he was notified that the lawsuit would be filed.
All of the lawsuits allege that officials at the Children's Home and Western North Carolina Conference failed to do anything to stop the alleged sexual abuse of the boys and Biggs-Fore. The lawsuits said that the Biggses were eventually fired around 1975 for their alleged sexual abuse.
Typically, the Winston-Salem Journal does not identify the alleged victims of sexual abuse or assault, but Biggs-Fore, through her attorneys, gave permission to use her name.
The Biggses were never criminally charged. Jack Biggs died in 2015, and Beatrice Biggs, 82, has dementia and lives in a nursing home, according to the latest lawsuit.
"The lawsuit states that the disgusting and repulsive acts of these two house parents, employed by the defendants to protect and nurture the children in their exclusive care, were beyond evil," Serbin said in a news release last week.
The other lawsuits are pending, and attorneys for Crossnore and Western North Carolina Conference have filed motions to dismiss them on the grounds that a new law, SAFE Child Act, has deprived them of the constitutional right to due process. The law eliminated certain statutes of limitations that had prevented alleged victims of child sexual abuse from filing civil claims.
Wilson, the attorney for Crossnore, declined to comment on the lawsuit. Ashley Prickett Cuttino, attorney for the Western North Carolina Conference, did not immediately return messages seeking comment.
In the latest lawsuit, Biggs-Fore said she moved with her parents and a sister to live at Haines Cottage in 1969. The next year, when she was either seven or eight, her parents began sexually abusing her, Biggs-Fore alleges in the lawsuit.
The lawsuit details numerous instances in which her parents forced her to watch them sexually assault boys who lived at Haines Cottage. Beatrice Biggs, the lawsuit said, would force her daughter to fondle boys she brought into the bedroom. Jack Biggs, the lawsuit alleges, forced her daughter to look at pornographic magazines featuring sadomasochism.
Biggs-Fore said that one time, her mother took her and a boy from Haines Cottage to see the R-rated movie, "Frenzy." The 1972 film was directed by Alfred Hitchcock and contained a rape scene. According to the lawsuit, Beatrice Biggs told her daughter to sit in the front row. Biggs-Fore alleges that she heard sounds and when she turned around, she saw her mother sexually abusing the boy.
When she did something wrong, her parents forced her to pull her pants and underwear down in the boy's study hall, pushed her onto a desk and beat her, the lawsuit said. Another time, she was forced outside of Haines Cottage without any clothes on, the lawsuit said.
Biggs-Fore said she saw her father masturbating a boy and watched her mother humiliate another boy by making fun of the boy's penis, the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit said Beatrice and Jack Biggs sexually assaulted their daughter over a period of five years, from 1970 to 1975. They also threatened to kill her and hurt boys who lived in Haines Cottage if she told anyone about the alleged abuse, according to the lawsuit. She said in the lawsuit that she had no one she could turn to at the Children's Home and that the superintendent never visited any of the cottages. When one of the boys tried to report abuse to the headmaster, the boy was accused of lying and forced to leave the office, the lawsuit said.
At 17, she ran away and tried to report the physical abuse to law enforcement in Richmond County, the lawsuit said. She did not report the sexual abuse.
As a result of the alleged abuse, Biggs-Fore said in the lawsuit that she has suffered emotional distress, depression, anxiety, panic attacks and other emotional damage. The lawsuit alleges negligence, constructive fraud, breach of fiduciary duty and negligent hiring, retention and supervision.