Fighting for Survivors Sexually Abused in CO Youth Detention Facilities

Juvenile detention centers across Colorado have faced years of controversy over rampant staff-on-inmate sexual abuse. This includes the Lookout Mountain Youth Services Center and the Platte Valley, Zebulon Pike, Spring Creek, and Berry K. Marler Youth Services Centers, all of which have been identified by the U.S. Justice Department as having high rates of sexual victimization.

Now, a growing number of survivors are stepping forward to seek justice against the Colorado Division of Youth Services and other entities that failed to protect them. Many more are also exploring their options should a pending constitutional amendment open the door for claims involving abuse from decades ago.

If you or someone you love were sexually abused as a youth inmate in any juvenile detention center in Colorado, Levy Konigsberg can help explore your options for recovering compensation taking the next steps in the fight for justice.

FREE Consultations for Victims of Sexual Abuse

Contact us today at (800) 315-3806 or email to discuss your case with our experienced legal team.

History of Sexual Abuse in Colorado Juvenile Detention Centers

Colorado’s problematic history of sexual abuse in state-run juvenile detention facilities has been documented by years of investigations and legal filings.

As these records show, the Colorado Department of Youth Services struggled for decades to reign in a systemic staff-on-inmate sexual abuse problem. This is apparent from years of high-profile investigations, including several from the federal government. For example:

  • In 2010, the U.S. Department of Justice released a report on sexual abuse incidents reported in juvenile detention centers nationwide between 2008 and 2009. The report found that over 12% of children at the Lookout Mountain Youth Services Center, a state-run commitment-only facility, experienced sexual abuse while in custody. The rate, which was higher than the national average, included high-than-average rates of staff sexual misconduct. The report also found that over 5% of youth at three other Colorado facilities (Platte Valley, Ridge View, Spring Creek) experienced sexual abuse.
  • In 2013, another iteration of the Justice Department’s juvenile detention center sexual victimization report, which focused on the year 2012, found that high rates of abuse remained at Lookout Mountain, Platte Valley, Ridge View, and Spring Creek, in addition to a nearly 8% rate of sexual abuse at Zebulon Pike.
  • In 2019, yet another Department of Justice report found that high rates of sexual abuse persisted at Lookout Mountain, Platte Valley, Ridge View, and Zebulon Pike. The report also found that over 12% of youth at the Betty K. Marler Youth Services Center reported sexual abuse.
  • In 2017, an independent report from the Colorado Child Safety Coalitionfound that a “culture of violence” permeated throughout the state’s juvenile detention facilities. According to the Coalition, there was rampant evidence of staff improperly restraining youth with shackles and straitjackets, inhumane use of isolation, physical violence, and other concerning conditions and practices that that are likely to lead to sexual abuse.

In addition to the DOJ reports, legal filings and criminal cases involving staff-on-inmate abuse further reveal how Colorado juvenile detention facility officials failed to stamp out rampant sexual abuse and misconduct. For example:

  • In March 2021, Maggie Stastny pleaded guilty to sexual exploitation of a child and was sentenced to seven years in prison for sexually abusing a teen inmate at the Marvin W. Foote Youth Services Center in Centennial. Stastny, who taught at the Center, had also been employed as a teacher in the Cherry Creek School District when she was arrested in September 2019, and previously worked for the Adams County, Aurora Public Schools, and Jefferson County Public Schools school districts.
  • In July 2018, Michelle Theresa Sarillo, a counselor at the Adams County Youth Services Center, was charged with sexual assault on a child in connection to her sexual abuse of a 16-year-old inmate between September 2015 and February 2017. That same month, Sandy Fisher, a guard at the Betty K. Marler Youth Services Center, which was shut down by the Colorado Department of Human Services in 2018, was arrested on charges that he sexually assaulted a female inmate. According to authorities, Fisher told the victim that he would allow her to use his vape pen in exchange for sex.
  • In August 2017, Brian Matthew Tate, a former guard at the Grand Mesa Youth Services Center, was arrested for sexually abusing two female inmates on multiple occasions. Both victims stated that Tate fondled and coerced them into having sex with him in areas that could not been seen by surveillance cameras, and that Tate threatened them to not report the abuse. In April 2018, Tate was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
  • In December 2016, Armando Torres, a corrections worker at the Gilliam Youth Detention Center, was charged with sexual assault on a child after investigators found that he had sexual contact with two juvenile female inmates.

We specialize in sexual abuse lawsuits against powerful institutions, including prisons, clergy, and juvenile detention centers.

We work on contingency, which means there’s no cost to hire and no fee unless we win.

We’re Investigating Juvenile Detention Center Sex Abuse Cases Across Colorado

Levy Konigsberg is actively investigating claims from current and former youth inmates who were sexually abused by staff at youth detention facilities across Colorado. This includes various facilities (both in operation and closed) with a history of documented or suspected sexual abuse and complaints, such as:

  • Lookout Mountain Youth Services Center
  • Platte Valley Youth Services Center
  • Ridge View Youth Services Center
  • Spring Creek Youth Services Center
  • Zebulon Pike Youth Services Center
  • Sol Vista Youth Services Center
  • Betty K. Marler Youth Services Center
  • Grand Mesa Youth Services Center
  • Adams County Youth Services Center
  • Marvin W. Foote Youth Services Center
  • Gilliam Youth Detention Center

Do I Have a Case?

You may have grounds to file a civil lawsuit if:

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

Levy Konigsberg represents survivors in civil lawsuits 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 abuse was never charged with or convicted in criminal court and even if your abuser is deceased.

Colorado’s Statute of Limitations for Civil Sexual Abuse Lawsuits

Colorado continues to face a long-standing battle over legislation that would provide all survivors of child sexual abuse with the opportunity to seek justice and compensation for their losses.

The latest developments in this battle began in 2021 when the state legislature passed the Colorado Child Sexual Abuse Accountability Act (CSAAA). This groundbreaking law, which better reflected the fact that childhood sexual abuse survivors take years to process their abuse and seek justice, was intended to expand the rights of survivors, especially those who were abused decades ago.

Notably, when it went into effect on January 1, 2022, the Act created a civil cause of action for sexual misconduct perpetrated against a minor, allowed survivors to sue organizations that failed to stop abuse when they knew or should have known about it, allowed survivors to bring claims against government entities that operate youth programs (such as the Colorado DYS), and created a 3-year lookback window for survivors to bring claims over abuse dating back as far as the 1960s.

Unfortunately, in June 2023, the Colorado Supreme Court overturned the Act, stating that it violated the state’s prohibition on retrospective legislation.

While the Court’s ruling was a blow to countless child sexual abuse survivors whose claims are once against barred by the statute of limitations, some key protections remain under Colorado law. For example, under current Colorado law:

  • There is no statute of limitations for civil sexual misconduct claims involving child sexual abuse that occurred on or after January 1, 2022.
  • Child sexual abuse survivors whose abuse occurred on or after January 1, 2016 may still bring civil claims.

LEGAL UPDATE: In response to the Colorado Supreme Court striking down the Child Sexual Abuse Accountability Act, state lawmakers are currently considering an amendment that would amend the Colorado Constitution to allow the passage of retroactive laws relating to child sex abuse.

If this constitutional amendment is passed, it would pave the way for renewal of the Child Sex Abuse Accountability Act or a similar law. Such a law would, for example:

  • Create a temporary lookback window for survivors to file claims regarding abuse that occurred at any time in the past.
  • Remove immunity protections for government agencies, allowing survivors to sue and hold government institutions accountable when the agency or its employees knew or should have known about abuse, but failed to prevent it.

Levy Konigsberg is closely tracking pending efforts to pass survivor-friendly protections and is available to help survivors abused in juvenile detention centers and other Colorado youth programs explore their options for filing claims under current laws and any revised laws in the future.

What Damages Can I Recover in a Sexual Abuse Lawsuit?

Civil sexual abuse lawsuits allow survivors to recover financial compensation for damages such as:

  • 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 losses

The state of Colorado has laws that impose caps on damages victims in some civil lawsuits can recover. This includes a cap on non-economic damages, which includes things like pain and suffering, mental anguish, and loss of quality or enjoyment of life, in certain situations, including claims against public entities. Our attorneys at Levy Konigsberg can advise you of these current caps, which are regularly adjusted for inflation and periodically changed by new laws, and how they may impact your potential claim during consultation.

Trust Levy Konigsberg's Legal Team for Proven Results in Sexual Abuse and Negligence Cases

Levy Konigsberg LLP, a nationally recognized law firm, has built a legacy over three decades, recovering over $3 billion in sexual abuse compensation for clients. Led by award-winning sexual abuse lawyers, we specialize in representing survivors in sexual abuse across the country, taking on powerful institutions. Our top-rated trial practice handles all types of sexual abuse or negligence cases, showcasing numerous testimonials and successful case results. You can learn more about our latest sexual abuse work on our blog.

FREE Consultations for Victims of Sexual Abuse

Contact us today at (800) 315-3806 or email to discuss your case with our experienced legal team.


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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