Juvenile Detention Sexual Abuse

Recent headlines and lawsuits have shown that sexual abuse is far too common in juvenile detention facilities. If you or a loved one has suffered from sexual abuse in a juvenile detention center, the Police Brutality Center can connect you with resources and quality legal representation to pursue justice.

Were you or a loved one a victim of police brutality?

Attorneys that work with Police Brutality Center may be able to assist you.

Prevalence of Sexual Abuse in Juvenile Detention Centers

Juvenile detention facilities are supposed to help youths reform their lives through professional guidance, mental support, and education.  However, all too often, these facilities foster a culture of abuse, subjecting vulnerable youths to sexual misconduct committed by staff and other youths in custody.  

According to a recent survey by the U.S. Department of Justice, 7.1 percent of young adults in detention facilities said they had been sexually assaulted within the last 12 months. Unfortunately, many of those entrusted with the care of the vulnerable juveniles held at these failures have sexually abused them. The study found that 5.8 percent of the total cases involved abuse from a facility staff member.

Reported sexual misconduct includes acts such as rape, attempted rape, forced sexual acts, unwanted touching, groping, kissing, sexual harassment, unwelcome sexual advances or comments, and being shown pornographic material.

Sexual abuse has been linked to behavioral decline and long-term mental issues for youths. Victims of juvenile detention sexual abuse can seek justice through criminal charges or civil lawsuits to hold the perpetrators and the facilities accountable for the misconduct. In a civil lawsuit, a victim may seek compensation for their damages and bring about needed reforms to prevent more abuse.

How Does Juvenile Detention Sexual Abuse Happen?

Studies show that youths in detention facilities are more likely to experience sexual assault and abuse than adults in prisons. The power dynamic at juvenile detention facilities enables sexual predators to prey on potential victims. Perpetrators, such as guards and support staff, often have access to files containing information about the youths, making it easy for them to identify and take advantage of more vulnerable youths. For instance, a guard might target a child who does not have a healthy relationship with their parents because they’re likely to believe they have no adult to turn to for help. 

Being in a position of authority also enables staff members to intimidate or threaten their sexual abuse victims into silence. Some of the coercion methods include using physical force or continued threats of force, threatening to have time added to their sentences, removing privileges, providing favors, giving the youth money, or offering protection from other inmates. Unfortunately, detention facilities often hesitate to report these staff members to law enforcement, and some refuse to terminate the perpetrators’ employment

Youths in juvenile detention are also at risk of sexual abuse and violence from fellow youths. Of the total sexual victimization cases reported in 2018, 1.9 percent involved another youth, with female youths experiencing more of these cases. Detention facilities are legally obligated to ensure the safety of the young adults under their care and can be liable for any harm caused if they fail to do so.   

Notable Examples of Juvenile Detention Sexual Abuse Cases

Sexual abuse at juvenile detention facilities has made headlines nationwide recently. The following are some of the notable cases:

How Can Victims Seek Justice and Support?

Youths who have experienced sexual assault and other types of abuse in the juvenile justice system are likely to develop long-term mental issues and get involved in criminal activity after release. Sexual abuse can also lead to physical injuries and illnesses that require medical treatment. 

If you or your loved one was a victim of juvenile detention sexual abuse, you can pursue justice through a criminal charge as well as a lawsuit in a civil court. A criminal case punishes the perpetrator, but it does little to compensate you for the physical and mental damages suffered from the assault.

While a victim may report criminal misconduct to the authorities, a prosecutor must bring criminal charges. A victim cannot pursue prosecution and has little control over the proceedings. In addition, the criminal justice systems rarely hold institutions accountable for enabling the abuse.  

In a lawsuit, a victim may pursue accountability from not only the perpetrator but also those who enabled the abuse. Victims may also seek compensation for the losses stemming from the abuse. 

An attorney can review your situation and determine whether you or your loved one has a juvenile sexual abuse case against a facility, a staff member, or another youth in the detention center. Quality legal representation throughout the legal process makes it more likely to receive a favorable settlement or court verdict.   

Statute of Limitations for Juvenile Detention Center Sex Abuse

Statutes of limitations impose deadlines on filing civil lawsuits. Courts will likely dismiss lawsuits filed after the deadline expires. 

The statute of limitations period varies from state to state, and it’s important to consult a local attorney to ensure you’re adhering to legal deadlines. 

Policymakers have increasingly acknowledged that it can take years for child abuse victims to come forward, so many states have enacted extended deadlines for filing sexual abuse lawsuits, and some have abolished the statutes of limitation altogether.  

Here are some notable examples of states’ statutes of limitations for sex abuse cases:

How Much Can You Win in a Juvenile Detention Sexual Abuse Lawsuit?

The amount you can receive after filing a juvenile detention sexual abuse lawsuit depends on various factors, including the length of the abuse, the victim’s age, and the severity of damages caused by the abuse. The quality of your legal representation may also determine whether you receive the full compensation you deserve. 

Typically, victims may seek economic and non-economic damages in civil sexual abuse lawsuits. Economic damages compensate for the quantifiable losses, such as medical costs, prescription expenses, therapy bills, and lost earning capacity. Non-economic damages cover a victim’s harder-to-quantify losses like pain, suffering, emotional distress, and the inability to enjoy life as before.

In some cases, victims receive an award of punitive damages. These aim to punish the defendant and deter such behavior from happening again.  

Examples of Settlement Amounts for Juvenile Detention Sexual Abuse

Notable examples of juvenile sexual abuse settlement values and court verdicts include:

Police Brutality Center Can Help With Finding Legal Support

If you or a loved one was sexually abused at a juvenile detention center, you have the right to pursue justice. The Police Brutality Center can support you by referring you to a skilled and knowledgeable attorney with experience handling such cases. Pursuing a lawsuit can empower you and give you the resources to heal while holding those responsible for the abuse accountable.

Get in touch with us to begin your process of learning and pursuing legal justice.