Camp DASH photo 7/23/17

Camp DASH counselors take a break from training in June 2017.

Two more parents have filed lawsuits against the universities and organizations, including Purdue, involved in a 2017 summer research study that ended after participants reported physical violence and sexual misconduct.

The camp was meant to study dietary patterns and their effects on blood pressure. Camp DASH had over $8.8 million in federal funding from the National Institute of Health and was supposed to include 150 participants in summer 2017.

But only 78 children arrived on June 10, 2017, the day of Camp DASH's first session, according to the lawsuits against Purdue, Indiana University, IU School of Medicine and the Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute.

Each of the new lawsuits was filed for two participating children through a parent, asking for damages caused to them as subjects in the trial. Camp DASH abruptly ended two weeks early that summer after one student was accused of taking and then sharing video of a younger camper in the shower. After The Exponent reported on the camp's abrupt end and many police reports involving the campers, Purdue President Mitch Daniels ordered a review of Camp DASH, and the study was ended later in the year.

The new lawsuits describe a few incidents not publicized earlier.

The first lawsuit, filed for the minor known as "D.S.E." by parent A. Herrick, addresses an incident where D.S.E. "was attacked by other participants" and "burned with hot stones," court documents say. "From the time minor child D.S.E. became involved with Research Project Dash until its conclusion, he was subjected to viewing incidents of physical violence by and against participants, as well as threats of harm from participants in Research Project Dash."

Herrick's suit also recounts incidents including fighting, alleged threats of weapons, assault of a counselor and the battery of an 11-year-old child.

Court documents also describe several accounts of sexual harassment. One complaint states that on July 12, 2017, a male participant in the study made sexual advances on a female lab technician. The next day, a parent told the camp's principal investigator, Connie Weaver, who later retired from Purdue, that the parent's daughter had been involved in "sexual activity" with a male child in the research project.

Later, a female participant tried to pull another participant's pants down and stick her fingers in his anus on July 17, according to the court documents. Purdue University Police Department was not alerted to this incident until July 24, 2017.

The second lawsuit, filed by guardian P. Lopes for minor "R.K.H.," describes many of these same events, in addition to a particular situation between R.K.H. and two other campers.

R.K.H. was with another participant, denoted as camper 119 in the lawsuit, on July 15, 2017, when camper 202 entered the room. Camper 202 grabbed participant 119 around his neck and pinned him against the wall while R.K.H. was there. 

"While camper 202 was choking camper 119, camper 202 demanded minor child R.K.H. turn over his keys otherwise he would continue to cause harm to camper 119," court documents state.

The complaint says there was no adult supervision in the room when the choking occurred. The lawsuits both allege there was "inadequate staffing" during Camp DASH, as there were some points when the counselor-to-participant ratio was one-to-20 and the counselors themselves were "inadequately trained, in part, regarding diversity and/or behavioral issues of child participants."

The complaints allege that some of Camp DASH's staff didn't attend any trainings, and some only attended portions of training before the first session of the study began.

Both lawsuits were filed by the same lawyer, J. Kevin King, who filed a lawsuit with guardian L. Lauderdale in October 2018 against the same universities and entities also in relation to Camp DASH. The lawsuit involved a female participant who was allegedly filmed while showering, with the video later posted to social media. 

Purdue has not responded to either Lopes' or Herrick's complaints as of Tuesday afternoon, though it did respond to Lauderdale's complaint in December 2018.

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