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SEXUAL ABUSE LAWSUITS

MAINE JUVENILE DETENTION CENTER SEXUAL ABUSE LAWSUITS

Fighting for Survivors Sexually Abused in ME Youth Detention Facilities

Juvenile detention centers across Maine have faced years of scrutiny over failures to protect youth inmates from violence and sexual abuse. Several of these facilities, including the Long Creek Youth Development Center in South Portland and other jails and development centers that housed youth inmates in the past, have also been subject to high-profile investigations and lawsuits related to the dangerous culture of cover-ups and poor oversight created by facility operators.

Now, a growing number of survivors – including many who were abused years or decades ago – 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, youth treatment center, or county-operated jail in Maine, 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 or contact us online to speak with a lawyer.

Maine Law Allows Survivors to File Civil Suits Over Child Sex Abuse That Occurred at Any Time in the Past

Thanks to several legislative amendments, survivors of childhood sexual abuse in Maine have considerable protections when it comes to filing civil claims for compensation against abusers and responsible institutions. This includes:

  • A 2000 law that indefinitely extended the state’s statute of limitations for victims of childhood sexual abuse, giving those who were abused as minors an unlimited amount of time to file civil lawsuits.
  • A 2021 law that retroactively lifted the statute of limitations for civil lawsuits based on childhood sexual abuse, giving survivors with previously barred claims the right to file lawsuits.

Maine’s current laws regarding for child sexual abuse lawsuits are among the most expansive in the nation but were once criticized for falling short. That’s because prior to the latest amendment, Maine’s unlimited filing window for child sex abuse lawsuits did not apply to survivors with claims where the statute of limitations had already expired.

Fortunately, state lawmakers finally pushed to retroactively lift the statute of limitations on previously time-barred claims in 2021. Thanks to this significant move, survivors who were sexually abused as minors now have the right to file lawsuits against their abusers and the institutions that failed to protect them no matter how long ago the abuse occurred.

Legal Update: Maine’s 2021 legal amendment has been challenged by entities that view civil sex abuse lawsuits as major financial and reputational threats. This includes the Maine Catholic Church, which has led legal challenges arguing that the new law is unconstitutional and that survivors should only be able to file claims against individuals (many of whom are no longer alive or lack the ability to sufficiently compensate victims) who committed the abuse.

Our sexual abuse team at Levy Konigsberg is closely tracking this legal challenge, which will soon be heard by the Maine Supreme Court, and is available to speak with survivors about their rights and legal options – no matter how long ago abuse occurred.

History of Child Sexual Abuse in Maine Youth Detention Centers

Maine’s problematic history of sexual abuse and violence within juvenile detention facilities has been documented by high-profile legal filings, public payouts, and sweeping investigations.

These records detail a systemic abuse problem in youth detention centers statewide, including the Long Creek Youth Development Center (LCYDC) in South Portland, which has been the only state facility for incarcerated juveniles since the Mountain View Development Center in Charleston was turned into an adult prison in 2015, and various county- and state-operated jails and prisons that housed youth inmates in decades past.

Further, the records show that the operators of these facility – including county court systems and the Maine Department of Corrections – enabled a culture of unprofessionalism, secrecy, and cover ups that allowed staff-on-inmate abuse and misconduct to persist for years.

Examples include:

  • In October 2023, a man formerly housed as a teen at the Long Creek Youth Development Center in South Portland filed a lawsuit against the Maine Department of Corrections and multiple staff over claims that he was sexually abused, forced to unnecessarily strip, and touched by staff while he was examined and placed in restraints. The suit, which focuses on abuse that occurred between 1998 and 2005 at both Long Creek and the Cumberland County Jail, also claims that the inmate was improperly isolated for days on end, sometimes while bound and naked.
  • In September 2022, a man housed at the Mountain View Youth Development Center and the Long Creek Youth Development Center from 2012 to 2016 filed a federal lawsuit over claims that he was isolated for excessively long periods of time, subjected to unnecessary force and restraint, and sexually abused while in custody.
  • In December 2019, Maine’s Long Creek Youth Development Center was included in a U.S. Department of Justice report detailing the rate of sexual victimization – defined as any sexual activity with staff and forced sexual activity with another youth – in youth detention facilities across the country. According to the DOJ report, over 9% of surveyed Long Creek detainees reported that they experienced some form of sexual victimization in 2018. This included nearly 6% of youth whose claims involved misconduct by facility staff (a number that is likely underreported due to threats or fears of retaliation).
  • In 2004, the state of Maine agreed to a $600,000 settlement with a former juvenile inmate who was abused while housed at the Long Creek Youth Development Center. The lawsuit, filed in 2001, raised claims that the inmate had been placed in solitary confinement for more than a month at a time, restrained for nearly 48 hours on multiple occasions, and subjected to other physical and emotional abuse. The lawsuit resulted in a series of state investigations that led to the reassignment of the facility’s Superintendent Lars Olsen and a senior psychologist who had signed off on the inmate’s treatment.

 

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, youth treatment facility, or county-run jail in Maine at any time in the past.

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 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:

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 Maine, 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 or contact us online for a FREE and confidential consultation.

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