Two of the three former Lakeside Academy staffers charged in the 2020 death of 16-year-old Cornelius Fredericks have pleaded no contest to involuntary manslaughter charges, according to local reporting from Michigan.
Cornelius, a foster youth living at the residential treatment center run by Sequel Youth and Family Services, died after seven facility staff members held him down in a prone restraint for 12 minutes. Two of the employees involved, Zachary Solis and Michael Mosely, were charged in the killing, along with facility nurse Heather McLogan, who was charged with felony-level child abuse for failing to provide medical care or call 911 for another 12 minutes, despite discovering Cornelius was unresponsive.
Solis and Mosely entered the no contest pleas in March in the Kalamazoo County Circuit Court. Counts of second-degree child abuse and second-degree child abuse causing death at a child care organization against both men were dismissed. McLogan was sentenced to 18 months of probation in 2021. Judge Gary Giguere Jr. said that barring further violations of the law between now and the December sentencing hearing, neither are expected to get jail sentences.
Cornelius’ death in the early wave of the coronavirus pandemic triggered harsh scrutiny of the treatment of young people living in for-profit group care facilities across the country. Some residents, like Cornelius, were placed in such settings through the foster care system, while others were sent by their families to receive treatment for mental and behavioral health challenges.
Investigations by The Imprint and other media outlets uncovered rampant child abuse and neglect at many of these facilities, including those run by Sequel. In addition to the violent and dangerous physical restraints meant to subdue youth — like the one that killed Cornelius — staff members at the facilities hit, kicked, choked and sexually assaulted the children in their care.
The abuse revealed in investigations by media and disability rights groups led numerous states to cut ties with Sequel and reconsider their use of out-of-state treatment centers for children in state custody. California passed a new law banning child welfare agencies from sending youth to residential facilities in other states. Sequel closed a number of facilities and sold others — though many were sold to Vivant Behavioral Healthcare, a new company launched in 2021 and run by Sequel founder Jay Ripley.