Fighting for Survivors Abused at Delaware County Juvenile Detention Center (“Lima”)

The Delaware County Juvenile Detention Center (DCJDC), sometimes known simply as  “Lima,” in Lima, Pennsylvania, was designed to securely house, care for, and rehabilitate young offenders aged 10–18 awaiting trial. However, recent investigations have uncovered decades of sexual abuse at the facility, with the County ignoring these severe issues for far too long.

The County ran DCJDC for decades until losing its license and closing in 2021, even though staff members had been abusing the inmates sexually for years. An increasing number of survivors are coming forward to file civil lawsuits against the public entities that failed in their duty of care while operating the detention center.

If you or someone you love were sexually abused in the Delaware County Juvenile Detention Center, Levy Konigsberg wants to help. Our legal team is leading the way in fighting for survivors and investigating claims of childhood sexual abuse committed at DCJDC.

FREE Consultations for Victims of Pennsylvania Youth Residential Treatment and Juvenile Detention Sexual Abuse

Contact us today at (445) 545-2267 or email to discuss your case with our experienced legal team.

History of Sexual Abuse in Delaware County Juvenile Detention Center

High-profile court filings, criminal prosecutions, and extensive investigations have all provided evidence of DCJDC’s troubling history of sexual assault. These records describe a systemic abuse issue at DCJDC and demonstrate how the facility’s management, including the Delaware county juvenile court systems and the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, permitted sexual abuse and misbehavior to continue for years due to their negligence. 

Many children at DCJDC became victims of sexual assault for years as a result of the abuse culture there, which was enabled by a lack of oversight, cover-ups, and systemic failures. The abuse got worse over time because it was unchecked. 

Following allegations of widespread physical, psychological, and sexual abuse at the facility by the county public defender, the Delaware County Juvenile Detention Center was eventually shut down in March 2021. Examples of reports and investigations of sexual abuse in DCJDC include the following:

  • In May 2024, Levy Konigsberg attorneys filed a lawsuit against Delaware County on behalf of three former inmates of the now-closed DCJDC. The lawsuit seeks damages and alleges that staff sexually abused the plaintiffs when they were minors and that institutional negligence enabled this abuse. The three plaintiffs accused the County of multiple counts of negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, and causing emotional distress.

The lawsuit claims that despite countless reports of abuse by DCJDC staff over the decades, which were brought to the attention of both county and state officials, no significant actions were ever taken to protect the kids at the facility.

  • In December 2022, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced the findings of a grand jury investigation into the major problems at the DCJDC. The report revealed that poor oversight, cover-ups, and systemic failures at DCJDC led to a culture of unprofessionalism, allowing widespread violence and sexual misconduct. Much of the abuse happened in “blind spots” where staff knew cameras could not see them.

The report also included testimony about sexually inappropriate behavior by male detention officers, including illegal relationships and staff-on-inmate abuse, which mostly went unchecked.

  • In March 2021, two former inmates from the DCJDC took legal action against Delaware County, the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, and the nonprofit contractor Child Guidance Resource Center. They accused staff members of subjecting them to sexual, physical, and psychological abuse. The lawsuit highlighted the Child Guidance Resource Center’s alleged involvement in concealing or disregarding widespread mistreatment of youth at the facility. The lawsuit included disturbing accounts from one survivor who described being taken to “private parties” where she was given drugs and alcohol and subjected to sexual abuse. Another survivor recounted being repeatedly sexually assaulted by a staff member and coerced into silence about the mistreatment. 
  • In March 2021, County President Judge Kevin Kelly ordered the DCJDC evacuation following concerns raised by the Public Defender’s Office. The urgent letter to the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services outlined allegations of sexual, physical, and psychological abuse by staff, describing a troubling “culture of secrecy” maintained through threats, intimidation, and retaliation. To ensure the safety of all the youth, they were relocated while investigations into the serious allegations continued.

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.

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 Pennsylvania.

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

Civil lawsuits cannot remove the trauma and effects of child sexual abuse. However, in addition to providing accountability and a sense of justice, civil sex abuse lawsuits allow survivors to recover sexual abuse compensation for the harm they suffered. These include economic, non-economic, and sometimes punitive damages. Economic damages address the financial impact of sexual harassment and abuse, while non-economic damages seek to compensate for the emotional toll. Punitive damages serve to deter serious wrongdoing and signal that such behavior is unacceptable. These damages 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

Levy Konigsberg sexual abuse lawyers can guide you through the intricacies of the legal system and advocate for the compensation you rightfully deserve.

Pennsylvania Sexual Abuse Statute of Limitations & Pending Law

In the Pennsylvania juvenile justice system, the current statute of limitations for civil sex abuse claims is the age of adulthood plus 37 years, which means that survivors sexually abused as minors typically have until the age of 55 to file legal action, as long as they were born after November 26, 1989.

As in other states across the country, Pennsylvania’s current statute of limitations for childhood sexual abuse claims has been criticized for barring numerous survivors from seeking justice and compensation for their damages and for failing to recognize accepted research about the considerable difficulties survivors face when processing their abuse and taking steps to come forward. Thanks to new efforts by advocates and lawmakers, however, there are now several pending measures before the Pennsylvania Legislature that seek to expand the rights of child sex abuse survivors.

These groundbreaking measures, which are expected to pass, will create new opportunities for survivors to step forward and obtain long-overdue justice. If passed, these measures would create a temporary two-year window for child sexual abuse survivors to file claims over abuse that occurred at any time in the past.

Levy Konigsberg is closely tracking the proposed sexual abuse measures in Pennsylvania youth residential treatment facilities and juvenile detention centers and is actively working with survivors looking for information about filing claims under the new extended statute of limitations or two-year lookback window, should these measures become law.

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 Pennsylvania Youth Residential Treatment and Juvenile Detention Sexual Abuse

Contact us today at (445) 545-2267 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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