Lawsuit targets driver, company blamed for sex with special needs passengers

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The mother of a special needs woman is suing a van driver who admitted having a sexual relationship with her daughter while taking her to mental health therapy.

The FOX 5 I-Team first reported how two Medicaid-funded van drivers were accused of having sex with two mentally challenged women. Yet no one forwarded those complaints to the state agency that supervises the Medicaid transportation contract.

Even more surprised, authorities said they could not arrest the two drivers because both women are legally adults and gave consent, even though their mothers insist they have the mental capacity of young teenagers.

So one of those moms decided to take legal action of her own.

"I get nauseated and sick to my stomach every time I think about it," declared Jeanine Bryant.

Her lawsuit targets Southeastrans, the broker that coordinates all Medicaid vans in north Georgia; Divine Care, the sub-contractor that transported the special needs women to therapy; and Ken Loggins, the van driver accused of having sex with Jeanine Bryant's daughter.

It started in 2013 when Loggins was the regular driver on the route that took Jeanine's then 34-year-old daughter to mental health therapy.

Her last name is different from her mother's. We are not naming her.

"Do you remember the driver named Ken?" I asked.

"Yes sir," she said in a high, childlike voice.

"What do you remember about him?"

"He was nice. And he talked to me. And he said I was beautiful."

She told Forsyth County authorities the two of them would have sex on the van both before and after her mental health sessions.

This year, investigators finally tracked down Loggins, now living out of state, and recorded their phone conversation. He denied having intercourse, but admitted other sexual activity, claiming it was all her idea, not his.

"She was 30-something years old," Loggins says on the audio recording. "You know what I mean? She was an adult. She knows what she was doing."

Her mother said Loggins told his special needs passenger he'd get fired if she told.

"Does she feel guilty now?" I asked.

"Yes," Bryant responded. "She feels like she's gotten everybody in trouble."

The FOX 5 I-Team called the Florida phone number Loggins gave investigators when they talked to him a few months ago. It was disconnected.

After the complaint in 2013 Loggins was moved off that route and eventually left Divine Care for unrelated reasons. District Attorney Penny Penn says she could find no crime committed because when it comes to consenting to sex, the law is clear.

"Law requires that you're looking at the actual age, not what the age of the person may be based on their disabilities," Penn explained.

Making matters even more frustrating for authorities -- a second special needs woman told them she had sex with her van driver, too.

That man also worked for Divine Care, a family-owned medical transport service based in Canton. The company released a statement to FOX 5, saying it removed both drivers when they learned about the allegations and "our members/clients are our number one priority."

Company owners Victor Barnett and Novella Noble told investigators in 2015 the allegations were upsetting.

"Forget about their mental health, our rules is that you have no inappropriate relationship with them," Noble told Forsyth County Sheriff's Department investigators. "I'm just so perplexed by this whole thing. And then to have two of our drivers from our company to conduct themselves in a questionable way, it doesn't look good for Divine Care."

They told authorities in 2015 they would start putting cameras in all their vans. No word on whether that actually happened.

The lawsuit doesn't specify what mother and daughter want from the defendants. But Jeanine Bryant says it's more than money. It's a message.

"They know it's true and they didn't want it out," she insisted.

Southeastrans did not forward the two complaints of driver misconduct to the Georgia Department of Community Health as required by the state. The company told us the facts weren't clear at the time. Southeastrans had no comment on the lawsuit.

Ms. Bryant wants to make sure future complaints like hers don't get brushed aside.

"I'm doing this to protect all the mental health and special needs," she stressed. "I feel like if my voice ain't out there, to keep others from getting hurt like my daughter was."