Fighting for Survivors Sexually Abused in AR Youth Detention Facilities

Juvenile detention and youth treatment centers across Arkansas have for years faced accusations of failing to protect young inmates from sexual and physical abuse, and several have been identified by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) as having the highest rates of sexual victimization in the nation.

From inmate claims and criminal indictments of guards and staff to years of alarming investigative findings, the record shows that the public and private entities that operate these facilities enabled a culture of abuse and cover-ups that allowed numerous inmates to suffer harm.

Now, a growing number of survivors who were sexually abused and harassed in these facilities are stepping forward to seek justice and the compensation they deserve.

Levy Konigsberg is an award-winning trial practice known nationally for litigating 
sexual abuse lawsuits against powerful institutions, municipalities, and public and private prison systems. If you have questions about a lawsuit involving sexual abuse that occurred at any youth detention facility in Arkansas, we want to help. We serve survivors statewide and offer FREE consultations. Call (800) 315-3806 or contact us online to speak with a lawyer.


History of Child Sexual Abuse in Arkansas Youth Detention Centers

Arkansas’ problematic history of sexual and physical abuse within juvenile detention facilities has been documented by high-profile legal filings, criminal indictments, and investigations conducted by both the federal government and juvenile justice advocates.

These records detail a systemic abuse problem in youth detention centers statewide and reveal the failings of the Division of Youth Services, local counties, and private contractors operating these facilities in adequately investigating claims, reporting abusive staff, and protecting minor inmates. Examples include:

  • In July 2023, an investigation conducted by Arkansas’ juvenile justice watchdog sparked criminal and regulatory inquiries into Rite of Passage, an out-of-state contractor that has run the state’s four youth treatment centers since 2020. A letter discussing the investigation stated that minors in ROP’s youth treatment centers were routinely sexually assaulted, denied access to therapy services, and improperly isolated for extended periods, and that advocates were “absolutely appalled” by conditions in Division of Youth Services facilities. The letter also noted a pattern of abuse at the Mansfield Juvenile Treatment Center, including the arrest and conviction of an ROP employee earlier this year who engaged in sexual activity with multiple youth inmates.
  • In January 2023, Ronald Routh, the former director of the Pulaski County Juvenile Detention Center, was charged with multiple counts of sexual assault and harassment involving minor inmates. According to authorities, the charges stem from reports made in June 2022 and involve juveniles as young as 11 and at least one incident that was recorded on video.
  • In May 2021, a former Lewisville Juvenile Treatment Center inmate filed a civil lawsuit against the center’s operator, Youth Opportunity Investments, LLC, and other defendants over claims that he was physically and sexually abused while living at the center from spring 2019 to November 2020, and that the center failed to investigate his complaints. The suit also claimed that juveniles at the center were routinely shackled for extended periods of time, physically attacked by officers, and disciplined in other abusive ways.
  • In December 2019, a nationwide survey from the U.S. DOJ found high rates of sexual victimization (classified as any sexual activity with staff and forced sexual contact with other youth) in Arkansas’ juvenile detention centers. The 2019 report also found that the Arkansas Juvenile Assessment and Treatment Center in Alexander had the sixth-highest percentage of youth sexually abused in custody. The DOJ’s previous report in 2013 also ranked the center as the nation’s sixth-leading facility, when nearly a quarter of respondents reported that they had been sexually abused in custody.
  • In October 2018, the Bryant Police Department announced that it was investigating a former guard suspected of repeatedly sexually assaulting a 17-year-old inmate incarcerated at the Juvenile Assessment and Treatment Center in Alexander. The investigation was spurred by the discovery of a dozen journals owned by the victim detailing the abuse.

Arkansas’ Justice for Vulnerable Victims of Sexual Abuse Act Gives Survivors More Opportunities to File Civil Suits

Thanks to the recently passed Justice for Vulnerable Victims of Sexual Abuse Act, survivors of childhood sexual abuse in Arkansas now have more time to file civil claims against their abusers and any institutions that failed to protect them.

Passed in 2021, the Act is groundbreaking legislation based on current research which shows that it often takes childhood sexual abuse survivors years or decades to process their abuse and deliberate difficult decisions about whether they should step forward with legal action. The key provisions of the Act include an extended statute of limitations and a two-year revival window:

  • Extended Statute of Limitations. Under the Act, survivors who were sexually abused as minors can file civil lawsuits against abusers and responsible institutions until the age of 55 or within three years from the date they discover the connection between their abuse and damages.
  • TwoYear Revival Window. Arkansas’ new sexual abuse law also created a temporary revival window that gives survivors abused at any time in the past the right to file a civil lawsuit. This window opened on February 1, 2022, and closes on January 31, 2024. This means that sexual abuse survivors can still file claims during the temporary window even if their claims were previously barred under the state’s old statute of limitations.

Our attorneys at Levy Konigsberg can help evaluate your potential claim and whether you have grounds to file a civil lawsuit under Arkansas’ extended statute of limitations or two-year revival window. As these are timely issues, we encourage you to reach out to our firm as soon as possible.

Do I Have a Case?

You may have grounds to file a civil legal action if:

  • You were sexually abused by a guard, counselor, or other juvenile detention center staff member.
  • The abuse occurred at any juvenile detention or treatment facility in Arkansas.

Levy Konigsberg represents survivors in civil actions that aim to hold juvenile detention center operators accountable for their failures to stop abusive staff members and protect young inmates.

As civil claims, these cases are separate from any criminal proceedings that may arise from abuse and focus instead on holding institutions liable for damages. This means you may still have a claim even if:

  • Your abuser is no longer alive.
  • Your abuser was never charged or convicted of a crime.

Recoverable Damages in 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

Call For a FREE Consultation: (800) 315-3806

Levy Konigsberg is a top-rated trial practice that’s recovered over $3 billion in compensation for clients. Led by award-winning lawyers, we’ve built a legacy representing survivors in high-stakes sexual abuse lawsuits across the country, and for our ability to take on juvenile justice centers, prison systems, and other powerful institutions.

If you have questions about pursuing a civil lawsuit over sexual abuse that occurred when you housed at a juvenile detention center or youth treatment program anywhere in Arkansas, we want to help. We serve survivors statewide and work on contingency, which means there’s no cost to hire and no fee unless we win.

Call (800) 315-3806 or contact us online for a FREE and confidential consultation.


Find out whether you have a case by speaking to one of our experienced lawyers via our 24/7 toll-free hotline or by submitting an email inquiry. Our attorneys will be quick to respond to you and happy to answer all of your questions.


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