‘Oh Shut Up’: Rep. Susan Wild Lashes Out Over Ad Based on Free Beacon Report 

Wild sought federal funds for children's psych hospital she defended in a sodomy case

Susan Wild (Facebook)
October 28, 2022

Rep. Susan Wild (D., Pa.) lashed out Friday over a campaign ad that seized on a Washington Free Beacon report about her work for a children’s psychiatric hospital embroiled in a molestation scandal.

"Oh shut up," Wild tweeted in response to the Congressional Leadership Fund’s ad slamming Wild for defending KidsPeace in a 2005 lawsuit involving a patient who sued the organization after he was sodomized by a counselor. Wild argued that the rape was a "medical incident" and that the KidsPeace's insurance company should have to pay the settlement to the boy.

Wild, best known for Zooming into a campaign event while driving, did not respond to the Free Beacon’s request for comment on the story cited in the ad. But she defended her legal work for KidsPeace in her Friday outburst, saying she "had nothing to do with" the underlying molestation claim and dismissing the Congressional Leadership Fund as "liars." Wild did not dispute that she referred to the molestation as a "medical incident" in court filings.

Wild’s meltdown comes as she is locked in a close race with Republican challenger Lisa Scheller, whom Wild beat in 2020 by just 14,000 votes. Republicans believe they can flip the seat as voters have soured on Democrats over the economy and crime.

Dozens of KidsPeace patients and their families have sued the organization over the years for negligence. Wild represented KidsPeace in two cases in the early 2000s. She represented the organization as part of a lawsuit involving a former patient, Matthew Craft, who sued KidsPeace for negligence for failing to prevent his rape in 1998 at the hands of KidsPeace counselor Dean Sine. Craft said Sine anally raped him and then threatened him from speaking out. He said that KidsPeace staff treated him for constipation after the brutal assault.

Craft said KidsPeace was negligent in employing Sine, who was indicted in 1992 for manslaughter in the suffocation death of another KidsPeace patient. Sine was acquitted, but he was later convicted of molesting another minor in an incident unrelated to KidsPeace.

Though Wild and KidsPeace did not deny the assault took place, Wild argued in court filings that KidsPeace did not have a "crystal ball" to predict Sine’s actions and was thus not negligent for preventing the rape, which she referred to as a "medical incident."

Wild represented KidsPeace in another insurance dispute in 2007, after a youth care worker at a facility in Minnesota said she was raped by a patient. Wild argued that KidsPeace’s insurance company should have to pay the $2 million settlement to the former employee.

Wild earlier this year asked the House Appropriations Committee for $1 million in federal funding for KidsPeace to upgrade one of its Pennsylvania facilities. The Democrat has not addressed why she selected KidsPeace for potential federal funding through the Community Funding Program. In a letter to constituents last year, she said she would select roughly 10 organizations for a congressional funding program out of hundreds of expected applicants. The organizations would need to "fill a clear and present need in the community" and have "proven, widespread, and robust support from the community," she said.

Wild has maintained other ties to KidsPeace since joining Congress. She toured a hospital in her district with KidsPeace lobbyist Caren Chaffee. She also visited a KidsPeace facility that has a federal contract to house unaccompanied minors brought to the United States illegally by their parents. Wild said she "was relieved to see that the children at KidsPeace appear to be housed in a safe, clean, and comfortable setting" and that the organization was "experienced in caring for children and adolescents with behavioral and mental health challenges."