(Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

Editor’s note: This story contains descriptions of physical and sexual violence against children.

A Seaside man is suing Oregon State Hospital, claiming he was sexually abused as a patient in the late 1990s by a psychiatric aide who was later convicted of sexually abusing three underage boys and attempting to kill one of his victims.

The man sued the hospital, former employee Frank James Milligan and the Oregon Department of Human Services Dec. 30 in Marion County Circuit Court, seeking $3 million in damages.

The complaint alleges Milligan was allowed access to the man when he was 16 as a psychiatric aide and “used his position of authority” to abuse him and other young boys.

Milligan has been in the custody of the state Department of Corrections for over 21 years, having been convicted of abusing boys in three separate criminal cases in 2000, 2001 and 2015.  

He is currently incarcerated at Oregon State Correctional Institution in Salem, with his earliest release being in September 2071, according to the DOC’s website.

The complaint said Milligan was hired in 1994 as a psychiatric aide at the state hospital in Salem. At an unspecified time, the man - then 16 - had significant health issues that required his admission to the state hospital, which cares for Oregonians with mental illnesses who are court-ordered to get treatment.

At the time, the state hospital operated under the state human services department’s direction before a 2009 law split off some programs to form the Oregon Health Authority. The health authority has been the hospital’s parent agency since July 2011.

Representatives for the state hospital and DHS declined to comment on the allegations in the suit. Matthew Sweeney, the attorney representing the plaintiff in the lawsuit could not be reached for comment Friday.

According to the complaint, Milligan sexually abused the patient when he was at the hospital.

The victim is identified in public court documents, but Salem Reporter does not identify victims of sexual abuse.

Due to Milligan’s threats of punishment and his authority to inflict it, the complaint said, the man was reasonably afraid Milligan would physically retaliate or kill him. He did not report Milligan’s abuse to anyone at the state hospital and “repressed all thoughts of the abuse he had suffered,” according to the complaint.

The man returned home to Seaside after his release from the state hospital. The complaint said Milligan went to Seaside and threatened to kill him if he ever told anyone what happened, the complaint said.

After Milligan threatened him, the man repressed memories of the abuse, the complaint said. Unable to mentally process what he’d endured at the state hospital, he suffered many setbacks in life and had trouble finding his place in the world.

The man struggled to find housing and provide for himself and eventually became homeless. “Living on the streets aggravated his already delicate mental state and (he) had many encounters with the criminal justice system,” the complaint said.

The complaint said he and many others fell victim to a “pattern of abuse of children” under the state hospital’s supervision and care.

It went on to say the abuse was a result of state hospital and DHS leadership lacking oversight of employees, their facilities lacking proper security and monitoring, the hospital failing to report suspected abuse to DHS, and “the culture in which the abuse of juveniles was not taken seriously.”

The complaint also said the state hospital and DHS didn’t put in place effective policies and procedures to prevent abuse “as new cases of abuse by employees came to light,” and that they didn’t terminate Milligan’s employment when DHS knew or should’ve known the threat he posed.

As a direct result of the state hospital’s and Milligan’s abuse, negligence and violation of rights the complaint said, the man has suffered “severe and debilitating emotional injury, pain and suffering, emotional trauma, and permanent psychological damage.” He will also incur costs for counseling, psychiatric and psychological medical treatment, and reduced ability to earn income due to the abuse, the complaint said.

Milligan previously pleaded guilty in July 2000 in Clatsop County to two counts of attempted first-degree sodomy and first-degree sexual abuse, admitting to abusing a boy under 12 in August 1997, according court documents. He was sentenced to six years and three months in prison.

Milligan was indicted in August 2000 on charges of attempted aggravated murder, first-degree kidnapping, two counts of first-degree sodomy and first-degree sexual abuse. The charges alleged he abused and tried to kill a different boy under 12 in July 2000. He pleaded guilty to all charges in August 2001 and was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

In September 2015, a jury in Marion County found Milligan guilty of two counts of first-degree sexual abuse and first-degree unlawful sexual penetration, court records showed. The Dec. 30 complaint said the victim was a minor in his custody at MacLaren Youth Correctional Facility in Woodburn.

A Marion County Circuit Court judge sentenced him to 35 years in prison on those charges.

 Contact reporter Ardeshir Tabrizian: [email protected] or 503-929-3053.

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