Layne Meacham, a social worker whose license has been suspended due to pending criminal charges, is asking for more than $50,000 in damages in a civil lawsuit filed against the man who suspended him.

In the complaint, filed Wednesday morning in U.S. District Court, Brian Barnard, Meacham's attorney, argues that the social worker was deprived of his constitutional rights by C. Wayne Holland. Holland is head of the Youth Corrections Division of the state department of social services and under his authority, Meacham's license was suspended Jan. 13. Meacham has been charged in 3rd Circuit Court with two complaints of child abuse.Meacham's Proctor Advocate program, at 2276 S. Constitution Boulevard, West Valley City, is a controversial treatment program that requires parents to grant custodial authority of their children to Meacham. Robert Hansen, who sits on the board of directors, describes the program as treatment for delinquent youths, combining tough-love discipline and an adaption of Alcoholics Anonymous principles.

Barnard said state statute doesn't give the Youth Corrections Division the right to suspend individual social workers but is to supervise and license the program. Treatment programs are required to conduct internal investigations when complaints surface, and Proctor Advocate determined the allegations of child abuse against Meacham were unfounded.

In addition, Meacham was barred from direct contact with his teenage clients. In the complaint, Barnard said the youths involved have been out of the Proctor Advocate program for several months, and Meacham should be allowed to work with the other youths.

Before announcing Meacham's suspension, the Youth Corrections Division should have provided an opportunity for an appeal or a hearing. Not having such a process has deprived Meacham of his civil rights, Barnard said.

The status of Meacham's license as a social worker depends on a March hearing to be conducted by the state Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing and the attorney general's office.