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Abuse Guardians
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Chicago, IL – Nearly 100 people have filed a lawsuit claiming they were victims of child sex abuse at detention centers across Illinois. The lawsuit details alleged incidents of abuse from 1996 to 2017, including gang rape, forced oral sex, beatings, and groping of children by corrections officers, sergeants, nurses, therapists, a chaplain, and others at nine youth centers.

Survivors of Alleged Child Sex Abuse at Illinois Juvenile Detention Centers Share Their Stories

Jeffery Christian, one of the plaintiffs, shared his experience, saying, “I learned at too young of an age that the system wasn’t going to make me a better man, just hurt me.” Calvin McDowell, who was 16 years old when he says he was victimized by a chaplain at an Illinois youth center, expressed feeling more alone than ever. Stephen Lucas, who was just 13 years old, said he was preyed upon by a dangerous man who held a position of power over him during his time at IYC Harrisburg, leaving him feeling hopeless, helpless, and alone.

The lawsuit accuses the state of failing to investigate the alleged abusers. According to paragraph 109 of the lawsuit, some of the 95 plaintiffs alleged “severe abuse by the same abuser,” including a former supervisor at the facility in Harrisburg who also serves as mayor in a nearby town. A frequent abuser, the lawsuit alleges, includes a chaplain at the facility in St. Charles.

One plaintiff, identified only by the initials “K.J.,” claims he was abused by “dozens” of correctional officers and sergeants at five different facilities he lived in between 2000 and 2004. The abuse ranged from strip searches where he was allegedly fondled, penetrated with a finger, and forced to give and receive oral sex at the St. Charles facility, to an instance of gang rape at the Joliet facility. At the Kewanee facility, the suit alleges, K.J. “was strip searched daily without suspicion, which provided a false guise under which K.J. abusers then sexually abused him and his cellmate.”

Another former IDJJ detainee, referred to in the suit as “A.B.,” was 14 when he was allegedly abused at the St. Charles facility between 1998 and 1999. According to the lawsuit, A.B. had two abusers who forced him to administer oral sex and receive anal penetration.

Seeking Justice and Damages From Negligent Officials

The lawsuit, filed in the Illinois Court of Claims, seeks damages of roughly $2 million per plaintiff, the most allowed under law. Attorneys representing the 95 plaintiffs say this is only the beginning, and they anticipate filing more lawsuits in the coming weeks.

The three men who spoke on Tuesday hope by sharing their stories, more people will step forward knowing they are not alone. McDowell expressed, “Today, I am not alone. Today, I take my life back from the man who preyed upon me. Today, I begin the road to recovery.”

Holding the State Accountable for Child Sex Abuse at Juvenile Detention Centers

As nearly 100 survivors of alleged child sex abuse at Illinois juvenile detention centers step forward with their stories and file a lawsuit seeking justice, it’s clear that the state failed in its duty to protect these vulnerable children. To better understand the legal rights of children abused while in state custody and how to hold negligent parties accountable, we sat down with Ervin Nevitt, an experienced Illinois sex abuse lawyer with a track record of fighting for survivors’ rights. In this interview, Nevitt shares his knowledge on the matter and provides valuable advice for those seeking to recover from the trauma and hold the state responsible for its failures.

Attorney Laurence Banville: Thank you for joining us today, Ervin. As an experienced Illinois sex abuse lawyer, what legal rights do children have if they are sexually abused while detained in a juvenile detention center?

Attorney Ervin Nevitt: Children who are sexually abused while in the custody of the state have a constitutional right to be free from harm. The state has a duty to protect these children and keep them safe. If the state fails in this duty and a child is abused, the child has a valid civil rights claim against the state and the abusers.

Banville: What types of damages can these children recover in a lawsuit?

Nevitt: Children who are sexually abused can recover damages for the physical and emotional harm they suffered, including PTSD, depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues. They can also recover damages for the violation of their civil rights and the failure of the state to protect them. Punitive damages may also be available in some cases to punish the abusers and the state for their egregious conduct.

Banville: How can the state be held accountable for allowing this abuse to occur?

Nevitt: The state can be held liable if it knew or should have known about the abuse and failed to take reasonable steps to prevent it. The state has a duty to properly screen, train, and supervise its employees. If the state fails in these duties and a child is abused, the state can be held accountable. The state can also be liable if it has a policy, custom, or practice that leads to the abuse of children in its custody.

Banville: What advice would you give to children who have been abused while detained in a juvenile detention center?

Nevitt: I would advise speaking up and telling someone you trust about the abuse. Report the abuse to the authorities and seek medical and mental health treatment. You are not alone, and it is not your fault. There are people and organizations that can help you get the support and justice you deserve. With the right legal team, you can hold the state and your abusers accountable and recover damages for the harm you suffered.

Banville: Thank you, Ervin, for sharing your expertise on this important issue. Children who are sexually abused while in the custody of the state have legal rights and options for seeking justice and accountability.

Nevitt: You’re welcome. It’s a difficult topic, but it’s important to shed light on the abuse that occurs in these facilities and to let survivors know that they have legal recourse. With the right support and legal representation, they can hold the state and their abusers accountable and begin the healing process.

Contact Us for a Free Consultation If You or Your Child Has Been Abused At a Detention Center

If you or a loved one were sexually abused while detained in an Illinois juvenile detention center, know that you have rights and there are legal options available to you. We understand the sensitive and traumatic nature of these cases, and we are committed to providing compassionate, discreet, and personalized legal representation. Don’t suffer in silence any longer. Take the first step towards justice and healing by contacting us today for a free, confidential consultation. Our attorneys will review your case, explain your legal rights and options, and guide you through the process of seeking the compensation and accountability you deserve. Remember, you are not alone, and it is not your fault. With the right support and legal team, you can reclaim your power and begin the journey to recovery. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.


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