CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Officials with State Police, the state Department of Health and Human Resources and several child advocacy groups are involved in the ongoing investigation focused of allegations of physical and sexual abuse against children housed at the Potomac Center in Hampshire County.

Two dozen children who were part of the the Potomac Center’s Intensive Training Program were moved from the Romney facility to other locations in January.  The program is a six-month to 24-month residential program for kids between the ages of five and 17 with developmental disabilities and behavioral issues.

Lt. Michael Baylous, State Police spokesperson, said there are as many ten suspects in the alleged abuse.

“We’ve got a lot of people to interview and it’s going to take some time to do this and do it right,” Baylous said.  As for the possibility of criminal charges, “That just depends on what the final conclusion of the investigation is,” he said.

Managers of the Potomac Center, a DHHR contractor, reported the abuse to state officials in January and the executives who oversee the non-profit Potomac Center have been cooperating with investigators since then.

There are reports an unspecified number of employees have already been fired or suspended because of the allegations.

DHHR officials have said some Potomac Center employees subjected the children, who stayed in three family-type houses at the Potomac Center, to “inhumane and degrading treatment.”

“I am outraged and deeply saddened by the exploitation of children and lack of compassion by some employees at this facility,” said Karen Bowling, DHHR secretary, in a statement.  “Let me reiterate, in the strongest terms, my condemnation of this behavior.”

Potomac Center CEO Rich Harshbarger also addressed the matter in a statement.  “I am appalled and saddened that the actions of a very few have affected so many,” he said.

In total, 180 people work at the Potomac Center.  Because of the ongoing investigation, Medicaid has cut off payments to the site and, as a result of that, 50 Potomac Center workers were temporarily laid off last week, while work hours and pay were cut for the remaining staff members.

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  • millie smith

    This has took it's toll on my grandson.He says he is losing his mind,I can't believe cps are stooping this low after what they have already put this boy thur.Now playing around with hs medication again.ABU Grave wont work for ever.This center is still playing there little games with his mind.They just transported him to Maryland.All over a tv show.

  • Millie Smith

    My 19 year old grandson has told me some pretty nasty things about this one staff.So far he isn't even getting no schooling since this happen.We his family only have know a little over a week about this since the shelter he is at allowed him to call home.

  • Millie Smith

    My 19 year old grandson was in this center.I want him home where this can't ever happen to him again.They sent him to a shelter when he has a home he can come to.Some one is going to answer for what they did to him.


    Full Artificial

    Metro News


    Drennan confirmed a small number of workers were directly involved in or had knowledge of three incidents, that he knew of, and three had been fired, as of Tuesday. Photos of kids in “demeaning” positions, he said, were sent to others via Snapchat, a social media app service that automatically deletes any sent photos once they’re viewed.

  • Not surprised

    Finally, something is being done!!!!

  • Poor Babies

    Prayers for all the children that are involved.

  • Susan

    This saddens me to the bone, it is a shame that those employees hurt those little angels here on earth, God is watching. I hope they get the maximum sentence for this. These children Didn't ask to be brought in to this old world, they are the most vulnerable people on earth, all thy want is to be accepted and loved and treated like everyone else. I have two special needs foster children, They make me smile everyday, I learn from them Daily They are Precious.

  • minkzu

    my son was there for a few months, when he came home he told me a blackman tried to rape him i asked if he told his in house mother as they were called he said she are you sure? Robbie punched the brickwall an busted his knuckles because no one believed him so this crap didn't just happen it's been going on for a long time my son is now 25 an he still saids it happened. You know people you just don't tell a mentaly challanged child not to say anything because in the end they do speck up

    • Millie Smith

      I believe your son.has the statue of limitation ran out yet?Same thing happen at Bar H Hospital.

    • rumors

      The center has never had in house Mothers. And if it is true about the rape why wasn't it reported. You can't come on here and make accusations and not look at yourself for not reporting. That is why the place is in trouble for not reporting some incidents.

  • Anonymous

    There indeed are MANY rumors that are flowing right now. Always remember that people are innocent until proven guilty. Everyone needs to put away their pitch forks and not only worry about the kids, but also worry about the workers who are not only innocent, but some of which are being falsely accused.
    I do agree the Potomac Center needs a great deal of change from the top to the bottom. It not only needs people who are certified to run the facility correctly, but it also needs each individual that works directly with the children to have full background checks and to be drug tested regularly to reassure that the children are safe. Hopefully, if the facility reopens they will do their best to make it top rate.
    But please, keep in mind that not everyone on the chopping block is guilty. You are not doing any favors making threats to the lives of anyone.

  • Just the Facts

    Let’s just look at the facts. The CEO holds a Bachelor’s degree in accounting, doesn’t have a clue to what is going on. He waits for the COO and Human Resource officer to instruct him on what to do. He doesn’t have a clue of what kids are at the center and he keeps a three ring binder in his office with pictures of the kids with their names just to identify the kids but he loves them so much. His work hours consist of 11-5 and that is stretching it which he stays in his office and never comes around to the houses unless he can get his picture in the newspaper. He is NOT qualified to hold the position he is in. The COO holds a Bachelor’s degree and depended on the Program Manager which she terminated out of jealousy for the knowledge she needed to run the Intensive Training Program. She replaced her with a Program Manager and two Assistant Program Managers that don’t have a clue what is going on but will lie and do whatever to have a little bit of power. The Human Resource Officer comes with a background history from Burlington Children’s Home where the same bad Human Resource practices were taking place and they got rid of her. Yet the Potomac Center hires her and imagine the problems reoccur yet again. The CEO, COO, and Human Resource Officer have blamed the lower level employees for the problems in attempt to keep their hands clean. They are the management team and are just as much if not more at fault as anyone. They have failed to perform their job duties and most of all they have failed the kids and that is what matters most. So I do feel there is a need for an Intensive Training Program in Romney, WV. I think the Potomac Center needs a cleaning from the Top Down with competent Upper Management that are not afraid to be around the kids and lower level employees, that are educated and experienced enough to train and lead the lower level employees, and most of all people who have a heart, compassion, and not only give lip service but do what they say. The CEO has been there for 34 years it is time to retire and admit to your failures, the COO needs to realize she attempted but also failed, and the Human Resource Officer has tried twice and failed at both attempts. Hint Social Security is past due in your case.
    One final thought, this isn’t the first time recently the Potomac center had been in trouble. The Center was on a bed hold around 4-5 years ago for the same practices at that time the same Upper Management was in place and yet it repeats itself again.

    • fixento

      Thank for the report it was very informative. When children are abused it's not about firing it's more about criminal negligence. If this country continues to have people in charge think they don't have any responsibility for the actions of their employees this abuse will continue. This is not a rouge employee this is a group of adults abusing or ignoring children being abused. Charging the CEO & COO with criminal charges would be a good start on sending a message to the inept and inert that have children in their care.

    • Filthy Belongings

      Very well stated, if you had seen some of the equipment we received upon accepting one of these Children You wouldn't have believed the filth, sounds like no one was doing their job to me I wouldn't put a stray dog in the wheelchair. it went straight to the garage and Human Service did come to see the garbage they sent along with our child. And if People knew these things were happening to these Children they are just a guilty for not reporting incidents to the authorities.

    • Filthy Belongings

      Very well stated, if you had seen some of the equipment we received upon accepting one of these Children You wouldn't have believed the filth, sounds like no one was doing their job to me I wouldn't put a stray dog in the wheelchair. it went straight to the garage and Human Service did come to see the garbage they sent along with our child.

    • past employee

      I could not agree more. After being employed at that place I know there was a lot of twisted work with the administration. That is where all the problems start. If the administration would be more involved with the kids and staff they would know more about what goes on. Its just amazing how the CEO and COO and all the others act like they care so much about the individuals yet they never show it. To fix the center and get it back in order the administration needs replaced with people who are qualified and more attention needs put into employees when hired.

    • annomous


  • it is everywhere

    Not just the potomac center but everywhere this is happening. It is very sad.

  • rumors

    It is sad the finger is being pointed at the wrong people. If the CEO truly cared like he says then he would know who his residents and staff were. Rumor is he didn't. How can you not know who lives there or works there? You are the CEO you are responsible for what goes on. You can't put all the blame on your lower staff when you don't have a clue what's going on.

  • mee

    I hope this investigation uncovers it ALL there have been rumors and allegations for years I attempted to expose and was discredited as were many others either Fired or made miserable...this story is just scratching the surface..plz do not to past even discredited employees...there is no way no one knew!!!!!

    • Elise Sheppard

      Look what has happened at that old Reform school in Mariana, Florida. Bodies are being found of kids that were most likely abused to death. We Americans warehouse difficult or needy kids and forget to observe strict oversight. And like the water problems in WV, I blame those who SHOULD be inspecting, questioning, as much as those who allowed the abuse to go on. Most to blame, of course, are the pedophiles and hateful people who are drawn to these jobs because they can get to vulnerable kids. God will judge them, and as the Bible said, 'to one who harms one of My little ones, it would be better if he'd had a millstone tied around his neck and that he be thrown into the depths of the sea.'

  • Concerned

    The Potomac Center's care and treatment has declined since the CEO and One General COO took over their positions. The care and concern became personal gain and I for me and the heck with anyone else. The new management of IT is also to blame. Those positions were filled with non experienced individuals whom believed they knew everything about the program. I dare to say that a person does not know all the in's and out's of a program with 2-3 years experience. The entire facility in the year has been cut throat, back stabbing for personal gain. Kids treatment plans were not individualized but cut and pasted. The CPI instructor and those in "upper management" agreed on floor restraints in which that was the only method used. What happened to least to most? I can guarantee that the documentation states least to most but the actual occurrence was immediate floor. Another issue is the use of excessive grounding. you can not ground a child with Intellectual disabilities for days upon days or months upon months. When these practices were reported and told to stop, it was ignored by the COO who would say, they are the trained CPI instructor.......... bullS......t What happened to dignity and respect????? It's the upper management and the new Residential Management who need training or terminated for allowing this practice to continue.