Tryon nurse speaks out about alleged attack

A Tryon Residential Center nurse who was allegedly attacked last week by a 15-year-old girl spoke ou

A Tryon Residential Center nurse who was allegedly attacked last week by a 15-year-old girl spoke out about the incident Tuesday, calling for more oversight at the facility and more accountability for its residents.

Cheryl Huxhold, 56, of Fultonville, said she was stabbed several times with a pen May 17 and beaten after the girl refused to stay in her room for disciplinary reasons.

“The violence there is an everyday occurrence that is escalating,” Huxhold said at a news conference held at the state Public Employees Federation building. “Nurses don’t normally get personally attacked like I did, but it’s escalating.”

Huxhold said she was called into a group counseling session after the girl became unruly, taunting a male counselor by stripping naked and making inappropriate physical contact. The nurse, who’s worked at the facility for four years, responded because she was the only available female staff member at the time.

When the girl was brought to her room, Huxhold said she refused to put clothes on or be covered and threatened to kill herself if she was not allowed to leave. Huxhold said she remained in the room because the girl couldn’t be left alone with male staffers while naked.

During the tantrum, the girl stabbed Huxhold and a male staff member with a pen several times, Huxhold said. While trying to get the pen, the nurse said she was also bitten, beaten, groped and verbally abused, sustaining a concussion and two chipped teeth from being kneed in the face. A male staff member and two other girls who are residents at the facility eventually helped free Huxhold, she said.

After giving her statement to police about the incident, Huxhold said she was treated at St. Mary’s Hospital in Amsterdam. The girl was arrested, but has yet to be charged by state police, whose investigation is ongoing. The girl remains at Tryon, but has been moved to a secure unit.

The facility, located on County Route 107 in the town of Johnstown, houses female juvenile delinquents ages 12-18 who are sentenced by family courts. It also houses girls younger than 16 who were convicted of violent felonies in adult criminal court, according to the website of the state Office of Children and Family Services, which is responsible for the facility.

“All the girls are not always bad,” Huxhold said.

Susan Steele, a spokeswoman for the state Office of Children and Family Services said 37 girls are housed in the secure and limited security units of the facility, with 162 staff members. Since the closing of Tryon’s boys facility in January, documents show 13 female workers were laid off and four were moved to hourly positions. Seven men were laid off, meanwhile, with one moved to an hourly position. In accordance with state Civil Service Law, workers with the most seniority were allowed to transfer to the girls center from the boys center before it closed.

“The fact is there are many empty beds at these facilities, and that’s why they’re being closed. Judges are not sending youths to these facilities like they use to, and are instead opting for local programs,” said Steele.

She added that there are indeed consequences and a code of conduct when girls behave inappropriately, but didn’t explain what those consequences were.

Categories: Schenectady County

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