Fighting for Survivors Sexually Abused in MI Youth Detention Facilities

Juvenile detention centers across Michigan have faced years of scrutiny over failures to protect youth inmates from sexual abuse. This includes facilities such as the Shawono Center in Grayland and the Maxey Training School in Whitmore Lake, which were identified in a Department of Justice report as having some of the highest rates of sexual victimization of any juvenile detention facility in the nation.

Now, a growing number of survivors are stepping forward to file civil lawsuits against the State of Michigan and other responsible entities that failed to protect teenagers and adolescents during their stays in state juvenile detention facilities and treatment centers.

If you or someone you love were sexually abused as a youth inmate in any juvenile detention or youth prison in Michigan, 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.

Sexual Abuse in Michigan Juvenile Detention Centers

Michigan’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 and show that the operators of these facilities – including the State of Michigan and various counties – enabled a culture of secrecy, and cover ups that allowed staff-on-inmate sexual abuse and misconduct to persist for years.

Some examples include:

  • In March 2023, Wayne County suspended seven juvenile jail employees following allegations of a physical and sexual assault committed against a 12-year-old boy. The suspension, which followed a string of escapes and attacks involving juveniles and the county’s closure of its downtown detention facility in October 2022, involved events that occurred at the Dickerson adult jail in Hamtramck, where the county’s youth inmates were being housed.
  • In January 2023, Sativa A. Bryant pleaded guilty to one count of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct for sexually assaulting an underage girl at the now-closed Wolverine Secure Treatment Center in Saginaw. Prosecutors had accused the 19-year-old Bryant of committing multiple sex acts with the 13-year-old victim while the two were housed at the Center.
  • In January 2020, the Michigan Department of Corrections agreed to pay $80 million to resolve a class action lawsuit brought by former youth inmates who were subjected to sexual abuse and other harms, including staff-on-inmate abuse, while housed in adult facilities. The lawsuit involved 12 youth inmates and incidents that occurred between October 2010 and February 2020.
  • In January 2010, a survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice found that rates of sexual victimization reported by youth inmates in Michigan juvenile detention facilities were far higher than the national average. The DOJ report also found that two Michigan juvenile detention facilities – the Shawono Center in Grayland (where 24% of youth inmates reported sexual victimization) and the Maxey Training School in Whitmore Lake (where 27% reported being subject to sexual abuse) – had some of the highest sexual victimization rates of any youth detention facility in the nation.

Levy Konigsberg Handling Michigan Juvenile Detention Center Sex Abuse Cases Statewide

As a firm with a reputation for handling high stakes sexual abuse cases nationwide, Levy Konigsberg is actively investigating claims from former youth inmates who were sexually abused by staff at youth detention facilities and county-operated jails across Michigan. This includes facilities that are currently in operation and facilities that are no longer open.

We’re speaking with youth formerly housed at various detention facilities across Michigan, including those with a history of documented sexual abuse findings or complaints:

  • Shawono Center
  • Bay Pine Center
  • W.J. Maxey Training Center
  • Wolverine Secure Treatment Center
  • County Jails / Juvenile Detention Facilities (Wayne, Kent, Saginaw, Bay, Ottawa, Berrien, Calhoun, Ingham, Jackson)
  • Oakland County Children’s Village
  • Pioneer Work and Learn Center
  • Starr Commonwealth

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 facility or jail in Michigan.

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 with 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

Pending Michigan Law May Soon Give New Opportunities to Child Sex Abuse Survivors

Michigan lawmakers are currently deliberating over a package of pending measures that would greatly expand the state’s laws regarding the amount of time child sexual abuse survivors have to file claims.

Under current Michigan law, victims who were sexually abused as minors have until the age of 28, or three years from the date they discover a link between their abuse and resulting damages, to file civil lawsuits for compensation.

The proposed bills, however, would significantly change the current statute of limitations and provide opportunities to survivors with older, time-barred claims. For example, the measures would:

  • Expand the civil statute of limitations for child sexual abuse lawsuits, allowing victims who were abused as minors to file claims until the age of 52. Currently, the law gives survivors of child sexual abuse until the age of 28, or within three years from the date they discover they were assaulted, to file claims.
  • Create a temporary 2-year lookback window for survivors to file claims over abuse that occurred at any time in the past.
  • Remove immunity protections for government agencies, allowing survivors to sue and hold government institutions accountable when the agency or its employees knew or should have known about abuse, but failed to prevent it.

These proposed revisions, which are gaining considerable support, better reflect accepted research about the difficulties survivors face when processing abuse and how victims who were sexually abused as minors often take years or decades to discover the connection between their traumas and resulting damages, which can include addiction, self-harm, and other mental health issues. They also allow survivors to hold entities like county-operated jails and the Michigan Department of Corrections accountable for their failures.

At Levy Konigsberg, our sexual abuse team is closely tracking these proposed measures and is available to help survivors abused in juvenile detention facilities evaluate their options for filing claims both now under the current statute of limitations and under any revised laws in the future.

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 Michigan, 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.


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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