GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. (FOX 5 Atlanta) - The Gwinnett County Police Department has launched an investigation into a series of crimes at a psychiatric clinic after allegations surfaced on social media.
According to police, investigators are looking into 15 to 20 different reports from patients and families at Lakeview Behavioral Health in unincorporated Norcross. The police reports range from missing persons to neglect to physical and sexual abuse.
"I want this place shut down," said Kerri Hitch, a mother who set up a Facebook page for families to share their concerns about the facility.
Hitch said she and her husband voluntarily checked their son Ethan Hitch, 15, in to Lakeview a few weeks ago after he asked for help dealing with depression.
"It was just horrible," said Ethan, who claimed he spent most of his week there alone in his room. "They didn't really like treating you right. They didn't give you no help."
Hitch said when she tried to pick Ethan up from the facility after the agreed-upon 72 hours, staff members refused to release him. Days later, Hitch said she called her insurance company and asked them to stop payment for Ethan's treatments. She also threatened legal action before they let the teenager go home.
After connecting with other families on Facebook, Hitch said she learned many of them had similar experiences.
Lori Stokes said she and her husband removed their daughter, Megan Kramer, 17, from Lakeview in May after discovering they had given her medication without their consent.
"When she took the medication she said that was the last thing she remembers. She doesn't even remember falling asleep," said Stokes.
Gwinnett Police would not release many details of the cases, but said some patients who filed reports were not sure exactly what had occurred.
"They're waking up and coming to the realization that there are unexplained injuries--sometimes physical injuries and sometimes sexual injuries," said Gwinnett Police Cpl. Michele Pihera. "So, it's important that we look into this a little further and figure out exactly what happened to them while they were there."
Officers hope that making their investigation public will encourage witnesses or even other victims to come forward. So far, the cases date back to as far as 2017. According to the police department, the victims range in age from 23 to 65.
At this point, no arrest warrants have been issued.
Anyone with information should call the Gwinnett Police Department or Crime Stoppers at 404-577-TIPS.