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Romanucci & Blandin and Gillispie Law Firm file a second multi-Plaintiff complaint against The Lord’s Ranch religious camp in Arkansas for sexual abuse and cover-ups

January 10, 2024



Eight more male former residents allege abuse by facility’s lead counselor, Emmett A. Presley, bringing total number of claims to 16.

CHICAGO and LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS (January 10, 2024) – Romanucci & Blandin, LLC and the Gillispie Law Firm have filed a second lawsuit on behalf of eight plaintiffs against The Lord’s Ranch, its many related entities, including Maxus, Inc. and Trinity Behavioral Health, owner and former Executive Director Ted E. Suhl, and other former senior administrators and staff, alleging the plaintiffs were repeatedly subjected to horrific sexual, psychological, and physical abuse as children while residing at this Christian-based religious camp and therapeutic facility located in Warm Springs, Arkansas. Plaintiffs allege they were all sexually abused by their counselor at the Lord’s Ranch, Emmett A. Presley, MSW, ACSW, LCSW, DCSW, who was one of the most notorious child abusers at the facility, using his position of power and authority to prey upon countless patients. Presley served as the former Director of Social Services, responsible for, among other things, overseeing all the psychological treatment and therapy provided to the children at the facility. Plaintiffs allege that Presley’s sexual abuse of children was reported to numerous administrators and staff, including Ted Suhl, who either feigned concern or, in some circumstances, punished the residents who reported abuse.  

This complaint with eight male plaintiffs follows a similar complaint filed on behalf of eight other male plaintiffs in November of 2023, bringing the total current number of cases of this nature to 16.

The civil complaint was filed January 9, 2024 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas, Eastern Division. All plaintiffs are identified as John Does to protect their identities. The plaintiffs are represented by Romanucci & Blandin, LLC in Chicago and Partner Joshua D. Gillispie of Gillispie Law Firm in Arkansas.

This complaint contains 10 counts including: Negligent supervision; negligent retention; negligence; negligent patient care; vicarious liability or neglect or otherwise tortious acts and omissions of all agents and employees; trafficking; violations to Title IX; civil action by a crime victim; tort of outrage and sexual battery.

Like the vast majority of the residents at The Lord’s Ranch, these eight Plaintiffs were all sent to this remote area of Arkansas from other states, including Illinois. Five Plaintiffs currently reside in Illinois, one in Indiana, one in Wisconsin and one in Washington, D.C.

The Lord’s Ranch was open from 1976-2016 and closed in 2016 when owner and wealthy businessman Ted Suhl was convicted of bribery and fraud for gaming the Medicare system of more than $125 million in state Medicaid funds for the camp. His father, Bud Suhl, had started the camp. Ted Suhl served time in prison following his 2016 conviction. President Donald Trump commuted Mr. Suhl’s sentence in 2019.

For decades until its closure in around 2016, The Lord’s Ranch presented itself to the public, parents, and governmental officials, courts, and administrators within school districts and child services agencies across the country as being a wonderful place with unparalleled programs to help adolescents in need of psychological, emotional, behavioral, or spiritual treatment. The camp took in children ranging from 7-17 years of age, many of whom had been abused or neglected as children, had troubled families, emotional and behavioral issues, or criminal pasts. On its website and promotional materials, The Lord’s Ranch justified its expensive cost by highlighting the high quality of its therapeutic and medical staff; the moral Christian education it provided; the warm, loving feeling that residents received from the family-owned and run facility which treated residents like family; the uniquely beautiful, peaceful, and safe environment “nestled in the beautiful surroundings of the Ozark foothills;” and a place conducive for emotional and spiritual healing. In that regard, The Lord’s Ranch boasted that its facilities spanned over “1,100 acres of green rolling hills, small shimmering lakes, flowering trees and horse pastures,” that “promise tranquility, a restful atmosphere, peace and the beauty of nature.” In this Complaint, as plaintiffs allege, the reality was completely the opposite.

The legal team applauds Arkansas lawmakers for taking child sexual abuse seriously and recently opening a window to make civil litigation and accountability possible for childhood sexual abuse. However, it is important for all Plaintiffs and potential Plaintiffs to be aware there is time sensitivity to this window, and all legal claims need to be filed by January 2024.

Anyone with any information, who worked at the Lord’s Ranch or who was a resident there is encouraged to come forward as a witness to what happened.

“These plaintiffs allege that the defendants, and most notably the Suhl family (Ted Suhl, Bud Suhl, and Shirley Suhl), possessed an overwhelming amount of actual knowledge concerning innumerable incidents of child rape continuously and routinely committed by the facility’s Director of Social Services, Emmett Presley, over a period of more than 10 years. Because of that knowledge, it can only fairly be said that the Suhl family condoned the enormous amount of child sexual abuse being committed by Emmett Presley.  Otherwise, they would have reported it, terminated him, or, at the very least, prohibited Presley from continuing to rape and molest the children under their care. The Suhl family did none of these things, knowing full well that their failures to act would without a doubt cause more young boys at the Lord’s Ranch to be raped by Emmett Presley,” said Partner Joshua D. Gillispie of Gillispie Law Firm.

To learn more about legal options in sexual abuse cases please visit our Sexual Abuse and Hazing practice area page.

About Romanucci & Blandin, LLC

Romanucci & Blandin is a Chicago-based national trial practice committed to fighting for victims of negligence, abuse and wrongful death. For 25 years, we have secured more than $850 million in verdicts and settlements for our clients - many for millions of dollars and others record-setting awards.  Our experience ranges from mass shootings, civil rights and police misconduct to medical malpractice, sexual abuse, motor vehicle accidents or workplace injury cases involving individual or institutional negligence. Romanucci & Blandin is a valuable legal resource to individuals and groups of people who have been injured by others’ wrongdoing. Referring attorneys and clients say several factors differentiate our firm: Our record of success, depth of experience, talented and dedicated legal team, tireless preparation and strategic use of communications to fight for the rights of those whose lives have been changed forever. We are different from other personal injury firms in that our work does not stop when a verdict or settlement is secured.  We are often inspired by our clients’ experiences and commit resources to create change in our communities. For more information about Romanucci & Blandin, please visit or call (312) 458-1000.

About Gillispie Law Firm

Gillispie Law Firm is a boutique firm based out of North Little Rock, Arkansas that represents victims of child sexual abuse and other crimes.  We seek to empower those injured or victimized by negligence and intentional bad acts of individuals, organizations, and corporations throughout Arkansas. Our experience ranges from cases against the Catholic Church and Boy Scouts of America to daycare centers and the Department of Human Services, and everywhere in between that children are victimized. We fight for those who cannot fight for themselves, and we fight for those who were failed by the systems they thought they could trust. For more information call us at 501-244-0700 or visit our website at

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