According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, two young people, through their attorney Brian Kent, Esq., filed a lawsuit against county and state agencies for abuse that allegedly occurred at the Delaware County Juvenile Detention Center in Lima, PA.
In the lawsuit, one girl claims facility guards took her to "private parties" and sexually abused her. As young as 16-years-old, the victim states she was given alcohol and drugs at the parties, such as Xanax and marijuana. The second plaintiff reported he was raped by a staff member at 16-years-old as well. He said he was in seclusion for four days, choked until he almost passed out, and beaten repeatedly. The staff member threatened to kill him and his entire family if he told anyone, reported The Philadelphia Inquirer.
The allegations include staff mistreating young people with mental illnesses. One person was locked in a room without access to water for days and covered in feces. Another teen was reportedly forced to drink toilet water when she was thirsty after a suicide attempt.
The lawsuit describes abuse that occurred for years, and other staff failed to intervene and report the crimes. In some cases, staff actively helped to cover up the crimes. The lawsuit highlights incidents from 15 years. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported staff of this facility had been accused of inappropriate treatment in previous lawsuits.
Attorney Brian Kent has represented numerous victims of sexual abuse involving detention centers in civil lawsuits. In an interview, we asked Brian to provide insight on the legal rights of victims sexually abused by detention center staff.
"Juvenile detention centers have a legal obligation to uphold the safety of the people in their facilities. The staff and guards are placed in the facilities as a form of safety measure. The residents of these facilities place trust in the staff. Unfortunately, some guards and staff exploit their authority and commit horrible sexual crimes. Victims of abuse deserve justice and should explore their legal options with an experienced sexual assault attorney."
"When victims report abuse by a staff member, the facility and the staff will be investigated. In some sexual assault cases, abuse occurs as a result of a negligent third parties. That negligent third party may be other staff or an employer. In cases where the employer is found negligent, they may be considered liable in a lawsuit. An example of negligence is if a staff member has been reported for misconduct, but that staff member is permitted to continue working. Another example is if misconduct is seen and ignored. In negligence cases, victims and their families should know they may have grounds for a civil lawsuit against the detention facility."
Brian and his firm currently represent multiple victims who allege sexual abuse against the Delaware County Juvenile Detention Center staff after several victims came forward in recent weeks. Brian and his firm are asking witnesses to step forward; if you or your child was abused or have any helpful information to the investigation, contact Brian and his law firm.