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Chicago, IL - Lawsuits Alleges Widespread Child Sex Abuse at Illinois Juvenile Detention Centers For More Than Two Decades

Chicago, IL - Lawsuits Alleges Widespread Child Sex Abuse at Illinois Juvenile Detention Centers For More Than Two Decades
Published: May 9, 2024
By: Darla Medina
Last Updated on May 9, 2024

Over 100 Survivors Allege They Were Sexually Abused in Illinois Detention Centers

According to a recent article by ABC 7 Chicago, nearly 100 individuals have filed a lawsuit accusing multiple individuals, including corrections officers, sergeants, nurses, therapists, and a chaplain, of subjecting them to child sex abuse at nine detention centers across Illinois. The alleged incidents of abuse, documented from 1996 to 2017, include horrifying acts such as gang rape, forced oral sex, beatings, and groping of children. Many of the plaintiffs claim they were coerced into silence through threats or rewards. Survivors of these traumatic experiences spoke out on Tuesday, May 7, 2024, shedding light on the widespread abuse.

Survivors of Child Sex Abuse Share Horrific Stories

Jeffery Christian, one of the plaintiffs, expressed a painful truth he learned at a young age: "I learned at too young of an age that the system wasn't going to make me a better man, just hurt me." Christian, along with other self-proclaimed survivors, bravely stood together to raise awareness of the atrocities they endured. He emphasized the importance of exposing what happened to them and the other survivors.

Calvin McDowell, who alleges that he was victimized at the age of 16 by a chaplain at an Illinois youth center, shared his experience of feeling abandoned and isolated instead of receiving the care he desperately needed. Another survivor, Stephen Lucas, revealed that he was only 13 years old when he was preyed upon by an individual in a position of power. Lucas expressed the profound feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, and loneliness he experienced during that dark time in his life.

One of the plaintiffs, identified as "K.J.," claimed to have suffered abuse at five different facilities between 2000 and 2004, starting at the age of 13. The abuse described in the lawsuit includes strip searches accompanied by fondling and penetration, as well as instances of forced oral sex and gang rape. The filing states that this sexual abuse occurred under the constant threat of physical violence.

Another survivor, referred to as "A.B.," alleged abuse between 1998 and 1999 at the St. Charles facility when he was just 14 years old. A.B. asserted that two correctional officers forced him to engage in oral sex and anal penetration. When A.B. protested, his rights and privileges were revoked as punishment, while compliance was rewarded with additional recreation time.

Lawsuits Include Over 100 Survivors Across the State

The lawsuit, which involves nearly 100 men and women, accuses the state of Illinois of failing to investigate the alleged abusers. Attorney Todd Matthews from Bailey Glasser LLP, representing the plaintiffs, described the extensive range of abuse suffered by the victims. Some of the plaintiffs alleged "severe abuse by the same abuser," including a former supervisor at the Harrisburg facility, who also happens to be the mayor of a nearby town. The lawsuit also implicates a chaplain at the St. Charles facility as one of the frequent abusers.

Survivors Accuse State of Failing to Protect Them

The lawsuit, filed in the Illinois Court of Claims, accuses the state of Illinois, the Department of Corrections, and the Department of Juvenile Justice of failing to adequately supervise, discipline, remove, or investigate the alleged abusers. The abuse is claimed to have occurred at youth centers throughout the state, including Chicago, Joliet, Harrisburg, Murphysboro, and Warrenville. Although some of these locations have since closed, the survivors demand justice and an end to sexual abuse within the Illinois juvenile justice system.

The lawsuit seeks damages of approximately $2 million per plaintiff, the maximum amount permitted by law. The Department of Juvenile Justice declined to comment on the ongoing litigation. Attorneys representing the 95 plaintiffs have stated that this is only the beginning, and they anticipate filing additional lawsuits in the coming weeks.

By sharing their stories, these victims hope to encourage more survivors to step forward, reassuring them that they are not alone. McDowell expressed his determination to reclaim his life from the individual who preyed upon him, marking the beginning of his journey toward recovery.

ervin nevitt
Hi. I am attorney Ervin Nevitt. If you or a loved legal assistance in Illinois, I would be happy to speak with you and discuss your options. Call the number below. Consultations are free.
(888) 997-3792

Uncovering Legal Rights for Survivors of Sexual Assault at Detention Centers

In light of the recent lawsuits against the State of Illinois, we spoke with experienced Illinois sex abuse lawyer Ervin Nevitt to gain valuable perspectives on the legal rights available to children who have endured sexual abuse at detention centers. As survivors seek justice and accountability, this interview delves into the avenues for holding negligent parties responsible and sheds light on the steps necessary to ensure the well-being of these vulnerable victims. Join us as we explore the crucial insights shared by Attorney Nevitt in navigating the legal landscape for survivors of child abuse.

Editor Darla Medina (DM):  Thank you for joining us, Mr. Nevitt.

Attorney Ervin Nevitt (EN): Thank you, Darla. I'm glad to be here and discuss such an important topic.

DM: Absolutely. Let's start by addressing the legal recourse for children who have suffered sexual abuse at a detention center. What options are available to them?

EN: When it comes to seeking justice for these victims, there are a few avenues to consider. First and foremost, filing a lawsuit against the responsible parties is a common course of action.

DM: And what about the specific legal rights these children have?

EN: Children who have endured such traumatic experiences have the right to seek compensation for the physical, emotional, and psychological harm they have suffered. Through legal action, they can pursue damages to help cover medical expenses, therapy costs, and other losses resulting from the abuse. It's crucial that these survivors understand their rights and have the opportunity to secure the justice they deserve.

DM: How challenging is it to prove liability in cases like these?

EN: Proving liability can be complex, but it is not insurmountable. In these cases, it's essential to gather evidence, such as medical records, testimonies from survivors and witnesses, and any available documentation that supports the claims. Experienced attorneys work diligently to build a strong case on behalf of the victims, ensuring that justice is served.

DM: What message would you like to convey to other survivors who may be hesitant to come forward?

EN: To any survivors who may be hesitant, I want them to know that they are not alone. By speaking out and taking legal action, they can pave the way for change and help prevent future abuse. It's crucial to find support from professionals and organizations specializing in assisting survivors of sexual abuse. The courage to share their stories and seek justice can make a profound impact on their healing process and the fight against these heinous acts.

DM: Thank you, Mr. Nevitt, for your invaluable insights and dedication to advocating for survivors of sexual abuse.

EN: It was my pleasure, Darla. Thank you for providing a platform to discuss this critical issue.

Abused at a Juvenile Detention Center? Contact Us for a Free Consultation.

If you or a loved one have been affected by sexual abuse at a detention center, we understand the pain and challenges you may be facing. Our compassionate team is here to support you. We encourage survivors and their families to reach out to us for a free and confidential consultation. Together, we can explore your legal options, provide guidance, and work towards obtaining the justice and compensation you deserve. You don't have to face this journey alone. Contact us today to take the first step towards healing and holding the responsible parties accountable.


ABC 7 Chicago

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Darla Medina
About Darla Medina
Editor: Darla is a content writer with a focus on the legal field. She covers cases of sexual abuse, drunk driving, and preventable violent crime for the Legal Herald. Contact Darla: This article was fact checked prior to publishing by this author to ensure compliance with our rigorous editorial standards. We will only use authoritative sources. Our values compel us to provide only trustworthy information. If you find an error, please contact us.
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