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One Employee Charged with Manslaughter, Obstruction of Justice, 1 Charged with Obstruction of Justice After Allendale Lake Villa Campus Death

Sat April 02 2016 4:24 pm
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Lake Villa police and rescue responded about 9:58 p.m. Wednesday to a report of an injured person at Allendale campus — a residential campus for children and adolescents with moderate to profound emotional and behavioral disabilities. Something immediately didn’t seem right about the call. Officials say fifteen minutes passed between the time Shaquan Allen, age 16, became unconscious and when Allendale staff called 911.

James E. Davis (Lake County Jail photo).

James E. Davis (Lake County Jail photo).

Allen was transported to Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, where he was pronounced dead at 11:10 p.m.

Two employees initially said they slipped on water, but 16 witnesses interviewed by police contradicted that report. Serak admitted that he and Davis came up with the story to make Shaquan’s death appear to be an accident, officials said.

Following investigation of the asphyxiation death of Shaquan Allen, employee James Davis, 37, of Round Lake, was charged with involuntary manslaughter and obstruction of justice, and another employee Justin Serak, 27 of Grafton, Wisconsin, was charged with obstruction of justice. Lake County authorities reported the arrests Saturday morning.

Bond for James Davis was set at $1 million at a court hearing Saturday April 2, 2016 in Waukegan. Bond for Justin Serak was set at $50,000.

Officials said that the two men had responded to a behavioral issued at the facility and were trying to get Shaquan back to his room. Justin Serak grabbed Shaquan Allen’s legs and James Davis was controlling Allen’s upper body — applying a chokehold, according to officials.

Lake Villa Chief of Police Craig Somerville reported that there have been three staff-involved incidents at Allendale in recent years. Lake police have responded to two cases of battery and one of inappropriate text messaging. Davis and Serak had worked at the Allendale campus for several years.

Shaquan’s death remains under investigation. Additional charges may occur since witnesses did not immediately report the incident while it was in progress, and since additional witness reports may reveal other details about the case.

More than 1,200 clients between the ages of 7 and 18 are served annually. The Lake Villa campus has residential services for 150 clients and a school with an enrollment of 200 students. Allendale also has homes or community-based centers in Wisconsin, Highland Park, Illinois and Waukegan, Illinois.

Allendale was founded in 1897, providing care through residential treatment programs, day treatment special education schools or from community-based clinical programs and services, according to its website.

Suspects are considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

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