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May 14, 2018 06:01 PM

Young Man With Developmental Disabilities At Heart of Lawsuit Over Restraint Use Appears In Court

A Sioux Falls family's lawsuit against a facility for people with developmental disabilities is now into its second week. 

Monday jurors got to meet the young man who was the subject of 137 "prone" or face down restraints while at Children's Care Hospital and School in 2010. 

Ben Graff is now 24 years old. The case is over a six month period back in 2010 when Ben was either a day student at Children's Care Hospital and School or a resident there.  

As KELOLAND News has reported, Ben has a severe developmental disability. He has the intellectual capacity of a three to four-year-old child. He is also non-verbal. Ben loves trains and Christmas, especially Santa Claus. So Monday, Santa brought Ben into court to help him feel comfortable in new surroundings.  

Graff and Santa

Ben's dad, Neil Graff introduced  his son to the jurors and asked him to show how he uses sign language for the words "friends" and "work."  

Ben high-fived the Graff attorneys and jurors laughed as he high-fived members of the public observing the trial as "Santa" escorted him out.  

Neil Graff picked up his testimony from last week. Neil was often emotional on the stand as he talked about Ben and his family's efforts to care for him.  

While CCHS incident reports say Ben banged his head 20 to 30 times before he was put into a "face down" restraint, Graff disputes that saying he had never seen Ben bang his head on anything; and that if Ben were banging his head Children's Care should have outfitted him with a helmet as they did other children with that behavior.

Defense Attorney for CCHS, Ed Evans told the jurors he'd gone to high school with Graff before he began cross examining him. Graff said they had been friends for 40 years.  

Evans pointed to records that showed Ben had displayed resistance to going to school long before the prone restraints were used.  

The Graffs have indicated after being held face down some 137 times at CCHS, Ben didn't want to go to school, or leave the house for months after he left the facility. 

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