Levy Konigsberg’s ongoing work representing former youth inmates who were sexually abused in juvenile detention centers has been profiled in a newly published article by The Baltimore Sun.
As reported by The Baltimore Sun, our sexual abuse litigation team and co-counsel Brown Kiely LLP has filed suit against the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services on behalf of 25 former inmates who were sexually abused while housed at the Cheltenham Youth Detention Center in Cheltenham, Maryland.
The lawsuit, filed Thursday in Baltimore City Circuit Court under the state’s newly enacted Child Victims Act, refers to Cheltenham as a “hotbed of sexual abuse,” and accuses the DJS of failing to adequately supervise staff, enact sufficient procedures for preventing abuse, and stamp out a culture of secrecy that thrived on threats and retaliation to keep survivors silent. It includes claims from 22 men and 3 women with allegations of abuse dating back decades and cites multiple investigations into the alarming conditions at Cheltenham and various campaigns throughout the years to close the facility.
The article also profiles one of our clients who courageously stepped forward to share his story. This client, who was first sexually abused by a guard while he was housed at Cheltenham when he was about 13 and later abused on multiple occasions between 1995 and 1997, discussed how detention center staff took advantage of his vulnerability as a child in the custody of the State of Maryland.
He also shared how, like the other plaintiffs being represented by our firm, the abuse has left him with lasting scars that caused him damage throughout his life. Because of the trauma caused by their childhood sex abuse at Cheltenham, many of our clients have reported struggles with damaged relationships, incarceration in adult prison systems, and other mental health issues.
Partner Jerry Block Interviewed on Cheltenham Suit
In addition to sharing the stories of our clients and the abuse they endured, The Baltimore Sun article also interviewed Partner Jerry Block, who is serving as Lead Counsel in the case and who appears in the article with our client who chose to use his name in the story and the complaint.
As Jerry highlighted, our firm is currently representing more than 125 individuals abused at different Maryland juvenile detention facilities operated by the DJS, including clients who were abused decades ago and many who were abused as recently as within the past five years. These recent cases, he said, show that the DJS has done little to nothing to make any meaningful changes. The firm also represents clients who were sexually abused at other Maryland juvenile detention facilities including, among others: Charles H. Hickey, Jr. School, Thomas J.S. Waxter Children’s Center, Baltimore City Juvenile Justice Center, Backbone Mountain Youth Center and the Montrose School.
Jerry also commented on the scope of the Maryland DJS’s systemic staff-on-inmate sexual abuse problem:
“We believe that this is beyond negligent, that there’s been a culture of abuse, a culture of secrecy,” Block said. “Sexual abuse of children simply cannot take place with this frequency and at this magnitude without there being negligence, and then really a cover up of the abuse, and a culture that just does not respect the humanity of children.”
You can read the full article featuring quotes from Partner Jerry Block and our client here.
Cheltenham Suits Made Possible by Maryland’s Child Victims Act
Levy Konigsberg’s lawsuit over inmate sexual abuse at Cheltenham, as well as the numerous other claims being handled by our firm in Maryland, have been made possible by the Child Victims Act, a groundbreaking law passed by the Maryland General Assembly in April of this year.
The Act, which went into effect on October 1, 2023, greatly expands the rights of child sexual abuse survivors by providing them with more time to file civil lawsuits and providing new opportunities to file for those who were abused decades ago. The Act’s two key components include:
- Elimination of the statute of limitations for civil child sexual abuse lawsuits, which gives survivors an unlimited amount of time to file claims.
- Creation of an unlimited lookback period, which allows survivors to file civil lawsuits over child sexual abuse that occurred at any time in the past, even if such claims were previously barred by the old statute of limitations.
Maryland’s Child Victims Act, which also includes a $1.5 million cap on non-economic damages when filing against private institutions and an $890,000 cap against public or government entities (and no cap on economic damages), is one of the most expansive in the nation, and is giving unprecedented opportunities to numerous survivors.
As a result, Levy Konigsberg has helping a growing number of survivors across Maryland explore their rights and options for filing sexual abuse lawsuits under the new law. If you have questions about pursuing a civil lawsuit over child sexual abuse in Maryland, we want to help. Call (800) 315-3806 or contact us online for a FREE and confidential consultation.