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Former patient seeks $1M in civil complaint stemming from abuse endured in 1992

Another lawsuit over child sex abuse allegations has been filed against Columbia Community Mental Health.

A civil suit filed in Columbia County Circuit Court Wednesday, Aug. 8, against the counseling center is the second in roughly a year to seek monetary damages stemming from what plaintiffs say was child molestation and abuse by a former counselor there in the early 1990s. SPOTLIGHT FILE PHOTO - Columbia Community Mental Health in St. Helens faces a lawsuit seeking $1 million for alleged child sexual abuse at the hands of a counselor there in the 1990s.

Wednesday's court filing marks the third civil complaint filed against CCMH for abuse dating back to 1992 and the fourth against Dean Alby, who provided counseling services to children in the 1990s. To date, he's been the subject of four lawsuits alleging misconduct and abuse while on the job.

The most recent complaint, filed through the law firm Vogt & Long PC, alleges a child patient between the ages of 9-10 was the victim of child sex acts while receiving counseling services at the nonprofit center in St. Helens.

The complaint names Alby, a former counselor at the center, as the perpetrator.

According to the complaint, Alby performed sexual acts on the child and exposed himself to the child during counseling sessions.

The complaint seeks $1 million in damages for "severe and debilitating physical, mental, and emotional injury, including pain and suffering, physical and emotional trauma, and permanent psychological damage."

Court records show Alby was convicted of second-degree sodomy and child sex abuse in 1993 stemming from a different case. He was sentenced to three years in prison for each offense, but court records show he was able to serve both sentences at the same time.

Heidi Hansen, a mental health professional who now runs a mental health advocacy website, worked alongside Alby at the time.

"When I got into the office one morning, my supervisor, Dan Smith, pulled me aside and told me that Dean had checked himself into [a] psychiatric unit and had helped him admit there due to being up all night suicidal ..." Hansen recalls. "Dan had talked him down and said Dean confessed to him about molesting his clients in the office."

That same year, Alby was named in a civil case against CCMH, formerly called Columbia County Family Counseling Center Inc. In that case, a young girl was abused at least four separate times in 1992 while in Alby's care, according to the complaint. That case led a jury to award the plaintiff $1.6 million, including punitive and non-economic damages.

Just prior to that case being filed, Alby was named in a separate lawsuit against Tualatin Valley Mental Health, where he previously worked. The case was eventually dismissed after a settlement.

Years later, in June 2017, CCMH was faced with a similar lawsuit alleging a former child patient was sexually abused by Alby around 1992. On July 31, that case was settled out of court for an undisclosed amount, records show.

Most of Alby's victims are now in their 30s, according to the complaints.

CCMH was not immediately available for comment, but in November, Jay Yedziniak, compliance officer with CCMH, noted that while he could not comment on the hiring practices in place 30 years ago, the center currently utilizes a "multilayer approach" to screening applicants prior to hiring them.

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