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Massachusetts Juvenile Detention Center Sexual Abuse Lawsuits

Fighting for Survivors Sexually Abused in MA Youth Detention Facilities

Juvenile detention centers across Massachusetts have faced years of scrutiny over failures to protect youth inmates from sexual abuse. This includes secure residential facilities that have been implicated in investigations and scandals involving staff-on-inmate abuse and other residential and community programs operated by the Massachusetts Department of Youth Services and private contractors.

Now, the DYS is facing a growing number of claims from former youth inmates who were sexually abused by guards and staff while housed in juvenile detention centers across the state. Many of these lawsuits, which allow survivors to seek compensation for their damages, were made possible by recent changes to Massachusetts law that extended the statute of limitations for claims filed over child sexual abuse.

If you or someone you love were sexually abused as a youth inmate in any juvenile detention center in Massachusetts, Levy Konigsberg wants to help you take the next steps toward justice.

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

History of Sexual Abuse in Massachusetts Juvenile Detention Centers

Massachusetts’ history of sexual abuse within juvenile detention facilities has been documented by sweeping investigations, civil lawsuits filed by survivors, and high-profile cases involving the arrests of youth detention center staff.

These records are part of a growing list of evidence that shows youth detention centers across the state struggled for years to reign in a rampant staff-on-inmate sexual abuse problem. They also indicate that the supervisors and operators of these facilities, including the Massachusetts Department of Youth Services (DYS) and private contractors like Volunteers of America, enabled a culture of secrecy and cover ups by failing to adequately supervise staff and investigate complaints.

Some examples include:

  • In March 2022, an internal investigation conducted by the Massachusetts Office of the State Auditor revealed alarming allegations of abuse within the Department of Youth Services. During the audit period, which was conducted from July 2017 through June 2019, over 60 reports of alleged neglect and abuse were filed, including multiple cases of physical and sexual abuse. The audit also found that despite the reports, staff were not terminated in all cases.
  • In December 2018, four former workers at the now-closed Casa Isla facility on Boston’s Long Island were sentenced to prison after being convicted by a jury on a total of 19 total charges related to beating, sexually assaulting, and threatening youth inmates in what prosecutors called “ritualized punishments” that took place between April and August 2014. The convicted workers included Jalise Andrade, Silvio Depina, Hermano Joseph, and Ainsley LaRoche, who, along with four other former Casa Isla workers, were implicated in a state investigation that led to a grand jury probe.
  • In October 2018, the third of three civil lawsuits brought by former inmates at Casa Isla was filed against the Massachusetts DYS. The lawsuits accused the DYS and Volunteers of America, which was contracted to operate Casa Isla, of failing to supervise staff and put an end to ritualized punishment and abuse committed by staff. They include claims that youth inmates were subject to numerous beatings and sexual assaults by staff and required to participate in a fight club for the amusement of workers. Several of the former Casa Isla workers named in the suits were also charged in criminal court as part of a sweeping indictment after the facility closed in 2014.
  • In July 2015, eight former workers from the Casa Isla youth detention facility on Boston’s Long Island were charged with assaulting youth inmates. The allegations accuse the workers of engaging in humiliating discipline rituals, including one known as “orange chicken” where teen inmates were struck on their bare buttocks with orange DYS sandals. In addition to charges of assault and battery, some of the former staffers faced additional charges, including threats to commit a crime, witness intimidation, and sexual assault. The indictments were the result of a grand jury probe initiated after a state investigation into allegations of staff-on-inmate misconduct at Casa Isla, which was closed in 2014.

LK is Investigating Sexual Abuse Claims Involving All Massachusetts Juvenile Detention Centers

Our award-winning attorneys at Levy Konigsberg have helped hundreds of sexual abuse survivors fight for justice in civil claims brought against city-operated jails, state and federal prisons, and juvenile detention centers across the country.

Now, we’re leveraging our experience to help survivors who were sexually abused while housed at secure residential facilities and other youth detention centers across Massachusetts, including centers that are no longer in operation.

Staff-on-inmate sexual abuse may have occurred at the following youth detention centers:

  • Casa Isla (Boston Long Island)
  • Plymouth Juvenile Secure Unit (Northampton)
  • Robert F. Kennedy School (Westborough)
  • Springfield Secure Treatment Program (Springfield)
  • South Hadley Girls Treatment Program (South Hadley)
  • Metro Youth Service Center (MYSC) (Dorchester, Boston)
  • Judge John J. Connelly Youth Center (Boston)
  • Reception-Detention Center for Girls (Boston)
  • Westfield Detention Center (Westfield)
  • Worcester Detention Center (Worcester)
  • Lyman School for Boys (Westborough)
  • Phaneuf Youth Treatment (Brockton)
  • Bishop Ruocco Girls Youth Treatment (Lakeville)
  • Fay A. Rotenberg School (Westborough)

If you or someone you love were sexually abused at these or any other youth detention centers or programs operating in Massachusetts, you may have grounds to pursue civil legal action and a financial recovery of your damages. Our team at Levy Konigsberg can review the merits of your potential claim during a free and confidential consultation.

Massachusetts Law Gives Child Sexual Abuse Survivors Years to File Civil Lawsuits

In 2015, Massachusetts lawmakers passed groundbreaking legislation to greatly expand the rights of child sexual abuse survivors. Specifically, these legislative amendments gave survivors, whom research has shown can take years or decades to process their abuse and its resulting impact on their lives, far more time to file civil lawsuits than what was previously provided for under the law.

Under current Massachusetts law (Chapter 260 § 4C), survivors of child sexual abuse must file civil claims within 35 years of the final act of abuse or within 7 years of discovering that they suffered damages as a result of their abuse, whichever is later.

There are two important facts about the law and its application in child sexual abuse cases:

  • The statute of limitations can be “tolled” until child victims turn 18, which means that survivors have 35 years from the date they turn 18 to file civil claims.
  • The statute contains a “delayed discovery” provision allowing child victims to file claims within 7 years of discovering that they suffered damages due to their abuse. This means that victims may still be eligible to file civil lawsuits even if it has been more than 35 years since their abuse, provided they had not previously discovered the connection between their abuse and resulting damages, which may include addiction, anxiety, depression, and other emotional and psychological injuries.

Massachusetts’ current statute of limitations for child sexual abuse survivors provides far more time for survivors to take legal action than the previous law, but advocates and some lawmakers are still pushing to eliminate the statute of limitations entirely in child sexual abuse cases. There is currently a proposed bill (S.1038) that is making its way through the state Legislature that would do just that.

Our team at Levy Konigsberg is readily available to assist survivors in evaluating the statute of limitations that applies to their claims. We are also closely tracking the proposed legislation and can advise survivors of their rights under both current law and any future legislative amendments.

Do I Have a Case?

You may have grounds to pursue legal action against a juvenile detention center and/or other responsible entities if:

  • You were sexually abused by a counselor, guard, or other juvenile detention center staff member.
  • The abuse occurred at a secure youth residential facility or any other correctional facility housing youth inmates in Massachusetts.

Levy Konigsberg helps survivors pursue justice and compensation through civil lawsuits filed against the Massachusetts Department of Youth Services and private contractors such as Volunteers of America, which operated the now-closed Casa Isla facility. As civil claims, the cases we handle are separate and distinct from any criminal proceedings concerning sexual abuse and abusive staff. This means that survivors can still pursue and prevail in civil claims even when:

  • An abuser was never charged with or convicted of a crime; or
  • An abuser is deceased.

Our attorneys have extensive experience handling sexual abuse cases involving staff-on-inmate abuse at juvenile detention facilities and can evaluate whether you have a claim during a consultation.

Recoverable Damages in Sexual Abuse Claims

Sexual abuse lawsuits provide survivors with an opportunity to secure justice and financial compensation for their damages. This includes compensation for:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional and psychological harm
  • Past medical and mental health expenses
  • Future mental health expenses, including therapy, medications, etc.
  • Lost wages
  • Other economic and non-economic damages

Call For a FREE Consultation: (800) 315-3806

Levy Konigsberg is a top-tier trial practice that has recovered over $3 billion in compensation for clients, including millions of dollars for survivors who were sexually abused in juvenile detention centers, jails, and prisons across the country. Our skilled attorneys are passionate about helping survivors in the fight for justice and have the resources to take on even the most 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 anywhere in Massachusetts, we want to help. We serve survivors statewide and work on contingency, which means there is 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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