Youth Detention Centers

If you were sexually abused while in a juvenile detention facility, you might be eligible to pursue legal action and seek financial compensation for your damages.

Comprehensive investigations by the U.S. Department of Justice have uncovered a pervasive issue of staff-on-inmate abuse in American youth detention facilities. The findings also indicate that both private and public operators of these facilities often fostered environments of silence and cover-ups, enabling the abuse. Now, with the enactment of groundbreaking laws in several states, survivors of sexual abuse in youth detention centers are being given new opportunities to seek justice.

Federal Reports Detail Dark Legacy of Sexual Abuse in U.S. Youth Detention Centers

Juvenile detention centers across the U.S. have struggled for decades with high rates of staff-on-inmate sexual abuse.

These issues have been widely documented in numerous criminal cases against guards and staff accused of abuse, civil legal filings by survivors, and sweeping investigations conducted by local, state, and federal authorities.

This includes a series of reports released by the U.S. Department of Justice covering reported incidents of sexual victimization, which is defined as any sexual activity with staff and forced sexual activity with another youth – at nearly 200 juvenile detention facilities across the country.

As the DOJ reports have shown, youth housed in American juvenile detention centers have reported alarmingly high rates of sexual victimization. For example.

  • 2019 report from the DOJ found high rates of sexual abuse in juvenile detention facilities across the country. The report found that youth inmates reported more than 2,460 allegations of sexual victimization in 2018, an 89% increase from the 1,306 reported in 2013. It also found that more than half of all cases of sexual abuse involved misconduct committed by staff.
  • 2013 report from the DOJ found that 9.5% of youth housed in public and privately operated juvenile detention facilities reported one or more incidents of sexual victimization, nearly 8% of which involved misconduct by staff. The report also identified 13 facilities where the rate of sexual victimization reported by youth exceeded 15%.
  • 2010 report from the DOJ found that 12% of youth housed at juvenile detention facilities reported sexual victimization in the previous 12 months, including a shocking 10.3% that involved misconduct with staff. Of the 13 facilities identified for having more than a 15% rate of sexual victimization, six had victimization rates of 30% or more, four had rates between 25% and 30%, and three had rates between 20% and 25%.

Laws Give Youth Detention Center Sex Abuse Survivors New Opportunities for Justice

In recent years, states across the country have worked to pass laws that make it easier for childhood sexual abuse survivors to step forward and seek the compensation they deserve.

These groundbreaking laws are based on widely accepted research into the difficulties sexual abuse survivors face when it comes to processing their abuse, the fact that it can take years or decades before survivors abused as minors are able to understand the connection between their abuse and the damages they’ve suffered, and the various legal barriers modern state laws have created for survivors who wish to pursue justice in the civil legal system.

Today, laws passed in a growing number of states are giving unprecedented opportunities for child sexual abuse survivors to seek justice. Many of these laws involve the extension of the statute of limitations, which gives survivors years or decades more time to file their claims, and some have eliminated the civil statute of limitations for child sex abuse lawsuits entirely. Several states have also included retroactive components in these laws that allow survivors with previously time-barred claims to step forward.

Civil Juvenile Detention Lawsuits: Do I Have a Case?

You may have a potential case if:

  • You were sexually abused by a guard, counselor, volunteer, or staff member at any time in the past.
  • The abuse occurred at any private or public youth detention or treatment facility in the U.S.

As civil claims, youth detention center sexual abuse lawsuits focus on holding facility operators (which may include private contractors, municipal jails, county youth services, and other public entities) accountable for their failures to prevent abuse, investigate abusers, and protect youth. As such, they are not impacted by any criminal investigations or cases that may (or may not) arise from the abuse. This means that you may have a case even if:

  • You were abused in the state of California, Michigan, Illinois or Pennsylvania.
  • Your abuser was never criminally investigated, charged with, or convicted of a crime.
  • Your abuser was found Not Guilty in a criminal case.
  • Your abuser is not solvent (does not have funds to compensate you) or is no longer alive.

Recoverable Damages in Juvenile Detention Center Sexual Abuse Claims

In addition to providing accountability and a sense of justice, civil sex abuse lawsuits allow survivors to recover financial compensation for their damages, which may include:

  • Past medical and mental health expenses
  • Future mental health expenses, including therapy, medications, etc.
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional anguish and psychological harm
  • Lost income
  • Other economic and non-economic damages

Contact Turnbull, Holcomb & LeMoine at 888-488-9616 or submit your case details online for a consultation. Our attorneys can offer personalized support and advocate for justice on behalf of affected families.