Lawmakers turn back immunity language tied to Pierceton Woods

By Dan Spalding
News Now Warsaw

WARSAW — A warsaw attorney is lauding efforts by the Indiana General Assembly after lawmakers resisted repeated efforts to provide immunity to certain state contractors from most lawsuits filed by abuse victims and their families.

According to a report by, Lifeline Youth & Family Services/Lasting Change, which operates Pierceton Woods Academy, a treatment center for boys located in Pierceton, sought to insert language into an unrelated bill late in the legislative session that would have provided immunity from lawsuits in certain cases.

The reversal comes after revelations about sexual abuse allegations at Pierceton Woods.

The legislative maneuver — the fourth try this year — was derailed late last week one day after the Indy Star published its story.

Warsaw attorney Travis McConnell represented a boy and his family in a 2020 lawsuit that alleged sexual abuse at Pierceton Woods. He said he learned of last week’s move by a lobbying group and then reached out to numerous lawmakers and the newspaper.

McConnell said the first two efforts to see the language approved were in stand-alone bills. The other two involve placing the language in unrelated bills.

McConnell said he found some satisfaction in seeing the effort halted.

“It was encouraging to see the legislature did the right thing. Hopefully, they’re going to be vigilant,” McConnell said Sunday.

The Warsaw attorney said he also found it odd how bills can keep popping up after being defeated.

At first, defeated the standing bill — OK great we won,” he said. “And then all the sudden it’s maybe getting tacked on to this one … my goodness, it’s crazy,” he said.