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Illinois Juvenile Detention Center Sexual Abuse Lawsuits

Fighting for Survivors Sexually Abused in IL Youth Detention Facilities

Juvenile detention centers across Illinois have faced years of scrutiny over failures to protect youth inmates from violence and sexual 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 civil lawsuits and criminal cases involving abusive guards to alarming investigative findings, the record shows that the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice (IDJJ) and other entities that operate jails or facilities that house youth inmates failed to reign in a culture of secrecy and cover-ups that allowed staff-on-inmate abuse to persist for decades.

Now, a growing number of survivors are stepping forward to file civil lawsuits against the entities that failed to protect them. If you or someone you love were sexually abused as a youth inmate in any juvenile detention facility in Illinois, Levy Konigsberg wants to help.

Levy Konigsberg is nationally recognized trial practice with a legacy of litigating sexual abuse lawsuits against powerful institutions, municipalities, and public and private prison systems. We serve survivors statewide and offer FREE and confidential consultations. Call (800) 315-3806 or contact us online to speak with a lawyer.

History of Child Sexual Abuse in Illinois Youth Detention Centers

Illinois’ problematic history of sexual and physical abuse within juvenile detention facilities has been documented by high-profile legal filings, criminal indictments, and sweeping investigations.

This includes a federal investigation conducted by the DOJ’s Bureau of Justice Statistics into sexual abuse at seven Illinois youth detention facilities, including Illinois Youth Centers (IYCs) in Chicago, Harrisburg, Joliet, Kewanee, St. Charles, Warrenville, and Pere Marquette:

  • In June 2013, the DOJ’s National Survey of Youth in Custody reported that Illinois was among the four worst states in the nation for sexual abuse in juvenile detention facilities. The DOJ report, which prompted emergency hearings in the state Legislature, showed that across all the state’s juvenile detention facilities, 15% of youth inmate respondents reported that they experienced some form of sexual victimization, a figure roughly 35% higher than the national average. At Illinois’ worst facility, the now-closed Illinois Youth Center in Joliet, 21% (more than twice the national average) reported having sexual contact with staff members, including contact by force.

In addition to the damning DOJ report, other high-profile cases involving staff-on-inmate abuse have shown that Illinois has struggled with a systemic abuse problem for decades. Evidence supplied by public filings and payouts have also shown that the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice (IDJJ) and various county-operated jails overwhelmingly failed to investigate complaints, report abusive staff, and protect youth inmates. Some examples include:

  • In June 2021, Antoinette Perkins pleaded guilty to felony official misconduct after it was discovered that she engaged in sexual misconduct with a minor housed at the Illinois Youth Detention Center in St. Charles. Prosecutors say the incident occurred in October 2020 while Perkins was employed as a juvenile justice specialist at the center.
  • In 2011, a male guard at the Illinois Youth Center in Joliet (IYC Joliet) was sentenced to six years in prison for sexually assaulting a 17-year-old in 2008.
  • In February 2007, St. Clair County agreed to pay $900,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by a former youth inmate who was sexually abused by a guard. According to the suit, the youth had been touched inappropriately several times by guard Thomas O’Donnell Jr. when he was housed at the St. Clair County juvenile custody center in May 2005. It also raised allegations that the County negligently retained O’Donnell despite a history of questionable conduct. O’Donnell pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated sexual abuse and other charges in April 2008.

LK Investigating Juvenile Inmate Sex Abuse Across Illinois

Levy Konigsberg is now investigating cases of staff-on-inmate sexual abuse that occurred at any juvenile detention facility in Illinois. This includes all Illinois Youth Centers, various County Juvenile Detention Centers, and facilities and programs that are now closed.

You may have a potential claim if you were sexually abused while housed in these or any other juvenile detention centers and programs:

  • Juvenile Temporary Detention Center (also known as “Audy Home”)
  • IYC Chicago
  • IYC Harrisburg
  • IYC Per Marquette
  • IYC St. Charles
  • IYC Warrensville
  • IYC Joliet (closed)
  • IYC Kewanee (closed)
  • County Juvenile Detention Centers (Cook County, St. Clair, Kane, Lake County, Will County, Winnebago, McLean, Peoria, Champaign, Sangamon, Madison, Adams, Franklin, Lasalle, Vermillion, Knox)

Statute of Limitations for Civil Sex Abuse Lawsuits in Illinois

Sexual abuse lawsuits, like other claims brought by plaintiffs who seek damages for injuries, are subject to a legal deadline known as the statute of limitations. When the statute of limitations expires, victims will not be able to file a claim or recover compensation.

Determining the statute of limitations in your claim can be challenging, as there are many factors to consider. In Illinois, the statute of limitations for civil sexual abuse claims brought by victims who were abused as minors is generally as follows:

  • Claims brought by survivors of childhood sexual abuse (abuse that occurred when the victim was under 18 years of age) must be filed within 20 years from the date the survivor turns 18 or 20 years from the date that they “discover” the connection between their abuse and the resulting damages, which can include depression, PTSD, addiction, and other mental health issues.

If you were sexually abused while housed at an Illinois juvenile detention facility, the best way to evaluate the statute of limitations in your case is to have it personally reviewed by a lawyer. At Levy Konigsberg, our attorneys have extensive experience litigating sexual abuse cases on behalf of youth and adult inmates and can help you take the next step toward justice.

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 youth detention center or county-operated jail in Illinois.

Levy Konigsberg represents survivors in civil lawsuits that aim to hold the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice, County juvenile detention centers, and other facility 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 has recovered more than $3 billion in compensation for clients, including millions in compensation for survivors of sexual abuse. We’re passionate about helping survivors seek justice and provide the firepower they need to fight back against powerful institutions.

If you have questions about pursuing a lawsuit over sexual abuse that occurred when you were a juvenile housed at a youth detention center or jail anywhere in Illinois, 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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