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Horizon Juvenile Center Sex Abuse Lawsuits

Fighting for Survivors of Staff-on-Inmate Sexual Abuse

If you were sexually abused by a staff member at the Horizon Juvenile Center in New York City, you may have grounds to pursue legal action and a financial recovery of your damages.

Horizon Juvenile Center has faced considerable scrutiny over claims that male inmates were regularly groomed and abused by female staff. In addition to being the subject of an ongoing federal investigation, the juvenile detention center has also been named in a growing number of lawsuits filed by former inmates.

Levy Konigsberg is a top-rated trial practice with a legacy of litigating sexual abuse lawsuits for survivors across New York and the nation, and is now reviewing claims from former Horizon Juvenile Center inmates who were sexually abused by Youth Development Specialists and other staff. If you have a potential case, we want to help.

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

History of Staff-on-Inmate Abuse, Misconduct at Horizon Detention Center

Horizon Detention Center is a juvenile detention facility located in the Bronx. As a secure detention facility, Horizon houses over 200 alleged or adjudicated youth or young adult offenders. The center is operated by the NYC Administration for Children’s Services (ACS).

In recent years, Horizon has come under scrutiny over declining and dangerous conditions within the detention center, as well as alarming patterns of misconduct and abuse committed by staff. These conditions have been highlighted by high-profile journalistic investigations and have prompted an investigation by federal authorities. For example.

  • In 2018, federal prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District launched an investigation into staff-on-inmate sexual abuse at Horizon Detention Center. The ongoing investigation stems from a 2015 Department of Investigation report that found ACS workers at the center failed to report staff members known to abuse inmates, as well as complaints and lawsuits that accused staff of grooming inmates by promising special treatment and contraband in exchange for sexual acts, and by revoking privileges when they resisted their advances.
  • In 2023, Gothamist published a report about alarming misconduct among staff at Horizon. According to the report, inmates were regularly provided with drugs, cash, weapons, video games, fast food, and other contraband by a secret network of employees, including managers, kitchen staff, Youth Development Specialists, and other staff. Staffers say employee misconduct has become an increasingly larger problem since the passing of the Raise the Age law, which banned the practice of sending youth offenders to adult jails and resulted in a larger population of older, young adult inmates.

Legal Filings Reveal Alarming Record of Staff-on-Inmate Sex Abuse at Horizon Detention Center

In addition to the investigations, various legal filings have helped provide further insight into the scope of staff-on-inmate sexual abuse at Horizon and the detention center’s failures to stop it. This includes civil lawsuits brought by former inmates who were abused by staff members and high-profile criminal cases against Horizon staff. Some examples include:

  • In April 2023, former Horizon staffer Natasha Robinson was arrested and charged with sexual abuse, criminal sexual act, sexual misconduct, and official misconduct after video surveillance recorded her engaging in a sexual act with a male teen inside the facility. Robinson was terminated by the ACS following her arrest.
  • In July 2019, a former Horizon inmate filed a federal lawsuit claiming that he was repeatedly sexually assaulted by former counselor Natalie Medford, who was also known as “Ms. C,” when he was 15 years old in 2012. The lawsuit also claimed that Medford threatened to plant drugs and weapons in his cell if he reported the abuse.
  • In February 2019, New York City agreed to settle a lawsuit brought by a 22-year-old Bronx man who claimed that he and other inmates were turned into “sex slaves” by staffers at Horizon. According to the suit, the man, who was housed at Horizon from 2013 to 2014, was offered special privileges and protection from disciplinary actions if he agreed to have sex with supervisor Natalie Medford. The suit also accused another staffer of engaging in inappropriate conduct with inmates and claimed that staff members looked the other way or encouraged abuse. Medford, who was in her 40s at the time of the abuse, was implicated in previous complaints, including a May 2018 lawsuit brought by an inmate who claimed that the ACS employee raped him 10 times beginning in 2013 and that he faced fake misconduct reports after putting an end to the abuse, and a Department of Investigation report which found that Medford had “an inappropriate sexual relationship” with a teen inmate.

These and other court cases have demonstrated what many former inmates and advocates have known for years: ACS employees at Horizon Detention Center regularly engaged in sexual abuse and misconduct involving male inmates and worked together to cover up the abuse by threatening and punishing victims and failing to report assaults committed by fellow staff.

New York Laws Give Limited Opportunities for Survivors to File Sex Abuse Lawsuits

How long you have to file a civil lawsuit over sexual abuse that occurred while you were an inmate at Horizon Juvenile Center will depend on the unique facts of your case. Fortunately, New York has been a leader in expanding the rights of sexual abuse survivors and providing them with more opportunities to file claims against their abusers and the institutions that failed to protect them.

At Levy Konigsberg, our attorneys can evaluate your situation and whether you have grounds to pursue legal action under the state’s statute of limitations or other legal avenues. For example, you may have a viable claim under the:

  • NY civil sexual abuse statute of limitations. Thanks to the passing of the New York Child Victims Act (CVA) in 2019, survivors who were sexually abused as minors have until the age of 55 to sue the institutions and parties responsible for their abuse.
  • NY Adult Survivors Act. Signed into law in 2022, the Adult Survivors Act created a temporary one-year lookback window for survivors who were abused as adults to file sexual abuse claims that were previously barred by the statute of limitations. This means that former inmates abused at Horizon while they were 18 or older can file claims over abuse that occurred at any time in the past. The ASA’s filing window remains open until November 24, 2023.
  • NYC Gender-Motivated Violence Protection Law. The Victims of Gender-Motivated Violence Protection Law (GMVPL) allows victims of sexual assaults that occurred in NYC to file civil lawsuits against abusers and responsible institutions. A recent amendment of the law also created a temporary two-year window for survivors to file claims over abuse that occurred at any time in the past. This window opened on March 1, 2023 and will close on March 1, 2025.

Thanks to these laws, former Horizon Juvenile Center inmates who were sexually abused by staff during their incarcerations have options for seeking justice and compensation.

But because there are deadlines associated with filing claims under these laws, we encourage those with potential cases to speak with an attorney from our team as soon as possible. Initiating timely legal action is critical not only to meeting these deadlines, but also to preserving evidence and building the strongest possible case.

Do I Have a Case?

You may grounds to file a civil lawsuit if you were sexually abused as a minor or an adult by a correctional officer or other staff member while you were housed at Horizon Detention Center.

It is important to note that under New York law, minors and inmates in jails, prisons, or detention centers are legally incapable of consenting to sexual acts. This means that any sexual contact between inmates and staff is prohibited and constitutes an assault.

Additionally, because sexual abuse lawsuits are civil claims that aim to hold institutions and other responsible parties accountable for failing to prevent abuse, these cases are separate from any criminal matters involving abusers. This means that you can still pursue a claim even if:

  • Your abuser was never convicted or charged with a crime.
  • Your abuser is deceased.

Recoverable Compensation in Sexual Abuse Lawsuits

In addition to providing accountability and 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 nationally recognized trial practice that has won over $3 billion in compensation for clients. As leaders in the field of sexual abuse litigation, we’ve helped survivors nationwide take on powerful institutions and municipalities that failed to prevent abuse, including the City of New York and the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision.

If you have questions about a potential claim involving sexual abuse that occurred at Horizon Detention Center, we want to help. Our firm serves clients across NYC and beyond, and works on contingency, which means there’s no cost to hire our team and no fee unless we win.

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

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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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