A former employee of IFB Solutions has been charged with sexually abusing a 17-year-old boy with Down syndrome, according to Winston-Salem police and a lawsuit against the nonprofit agency.
John Dorsey Caldwell, 52, of the 1400 block of Bragg Avenue in High Point, has been charged with two counts of misdemeanor sexual battery and two counts of felony crimes against nature, Winston-Salem police said in a news release late Thursday afternoon.
Greensboro police arrested Caldwell on July 25 and he received an unsecured bond. He had a preliminary court date on Thursday in Forsyth District Court. It was not immediately clear when his next court date will be.
Winston-Salem police said they received a report in August 2018 that alleged Caldwell had been having “inappropriate sexual contact with a minor person.” The police department’s Criminal Investigations Division started investigating the report.
In May, attorney Andrew Fitzgerald, an attorney representing the boy’s guardian ad litem, filed a lawsuit in Forsyth Superior Court against Caldwell, Winston-Salem Industries for the Blind and IFB Solutions Foundation. The lawsuit alleges that agency officials knew about Caldwell’s alleged sexual abuse and did nothing about it. The agency denied the allegations in court papers seeking to dismiss the lawsuit and to stay the litigation.
Winston-Salem Industries for the Blind officially changed its name to IFB Solutions in 2016. The agency is the nation’s largest employer of individuals who are blind or visually impaired. It has about 1,000 employees overall and 556 locally.
Laura Burrows, spokeswoman for IFB Solutions, sent out a statement Thursday.
“The reported allegation regarding a former employee is disturbing,” the statement said. “As soon as we were made aware of the allegation, we took immediate action. The safety of our employees and visitors is of utmost priority.
The lawsuit said that the boy, who is now 18 and is referred to as “S.” in court papers, participated in an occupational course study with the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County school system. IFB Solutions Foundation has been a part of that occupational course study for years, acting as a host location. And in the fall of 2017, the student was placed at IFB.
Caldwell was an employee with IFB Solutions, the lawsuit said.
According to the lawsuit, Caldwell “used his access to S. at IFB to abuse S. physically and sexually many times on the IFB property and while both were working for IFB.”
The lawsuit said that employees at IFB knew about Caldwell’s alleged abuse but no one contacted the boy’s parents.
“S. is not mentally capable of consenting to sexual relations or understanding the implications of sexual relations, and moreover he was 17-years-old at all times when the abuse occurred,” the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit said that Caldwell sexually abused the boy throughout the fall of 2017 and that IFB did not stop the abuse or tell the boy’s parents about it. IFB also did not report the allegations of abuse to the school system, the lawsuit said.
“Additionally, IFB had notice and knew or should have known that Caldwell had a propensity to be dangerous to IFB workers when he was hired,” the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit said that Caldwell has a prior assault conviction and that Caldwell had not been able to hold down a steady job.
According to the lawsuit, Caldwell did not have any positive job references. In court papers, Cannon said that Caldwell was convicted of misdemeanor assault 25 years ago.
The lawsuit also alleges that IFB knew about “facts and circumstances that warranted further investigation into Caldwell’s interactions toward S.”
“Caldwell is older and of greater mental ability,” the lawsuit said. “He had isolated S. socially, interacted with him in private areas, was obsessed with S., and appeared in areas of the facility where S. was located and Caldwell had no reason to be.”
The lawsuit said rumors circulated about Caldwell abusing the boy and that those rumors made their way to IFB management and Human Resources.
According to the lawsuit, Caldwell’s alleged abuse has caused the boy “major psychological damage for which he has received extensive treatment, and permanent psychological injury.”
The lawsuit seeks at least $25,000 in damages. No trial date has been set.