Missouri Juvenile Detention Center Sexual Abuse Lawsuits
Fighting for Survivors Sexually Abused in MO Youth Detention Facilities
Juvenile detention centers across Missouri have faced years of scrutiny over failures to protect youth inmates from sexual abuse. This includes the St. Louis County Juvenile Detention Center, which has been subject to vocal complaints over rampant staff-on-inmate sexual abuse, and the Hogan Street Regional Youth Center, which was identified by the Department of Justice as having one of the highest rates of sexual victimization reported by youth detainees in the nation.
If you were sexually abused by a guard or staff member at a juvenile detention facility in Missouri, you may have the right to pursue civil legal action and a financial recovery of your damages.
Levy Konigsberg is a nationally recognized trial practice with a legacy for litigating sexual abuse claims against public and private prison systems, municipalities, and other powerful institutions nationwide. Now, we’re leveraging our insight to help survivors who were abused at youth detention centers across Missouri explore their options to recover compensation.
Our Missouri juvenile detention center sexual abuse attorneys serve survivors statewide. If you have a potential case, call (800) 315-3806 or contact us online for a FREE and confidential consultation.
History of Sexual Abuse in Missouri Juvenile Detention Centers
Missouri’s history of sexual abuse in juvenile detention centers has been documented by sweeping investigations, civil lawsuits, and high-profile allegations.
These records have revealed alarming conditions within many of the youth detention facilities operated by the Missouri Department of Youth Services (DYS) and include complaints and cases of sexual abuse that date back decades.
They also show how detention center operators and the Missouri DYS failed to uphold obligations for protecting youth in their charge, often due to supervisory failures, negligent hiring and retention practices, insufficient staffing, and inexcusable failures to properly investigate complaints. These failures led to toxic staff cultures that enabled abusers to victimize youth and keep survivors silent.
Some facility-specific examples include:
St. Louis County Juvenile Detention Center
- In October 2023, District 6 Councilman Ernie Trakas implored the Missouri Attorney General to investigate the St. Louis County Juvenile Detention Center, which is operated by the state’s Department of Youth Services, after receiving numerous complaints of rampant abuse, violence, and dangerous conditions within the facility. In his letter, Trakas called attention to complaints of widespread staff-on-inmate sexual abuse and unsanitary conditions caused by youth being restricted to their rooms for long periods of time without access to bathrooms. He also noted how facility management created a toxic work environment that led to inadequate staffing and unacceptable supervisory failures and requested that the AG’s office dig further into the scope of misconduct among the facility’s operators and staff.
- In September 2023, an investigation into staffing issues and misconduct at the St. Louis County Juvenile Detention Center planned by the St. Louis County Council was temporarily delayed over confidentiality concerns involving the records of youth inmates. The investigation was intended to focus on the growing number of complaints from youth and families regarding a lack of staffing at the facility, which have contributed to problems involving health and safety violations, restricted visitation, and concerns over abuse and the handling of complaints.
Hogan Street Regional Youth Center
- In June 2023, an investigation into Missouri DYS staffing shortages published by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch detailed how a lack of staff and high turnover rates of upper management during the pandemic created a host of problems at the Hogan Street Regional Youth Center in Old North St. Louis, one of the state’s three high-security youth detention facilities. This includes repeated incidents of abuse, a steady flow of tablets, gaming systems, cellphones, vapes, and other contraband brought in by staff, numerous escapes (including 8 escapes or attempted escapes between January 2020 and November 2022), and the death of teen inmate with opioids in his system who died after falling out a third-story window. As one former Hogan Street youth specialist interviewed by the Post-Dispatch noted, Hogan Street was a “failure.”
- In January 2010, Hogan Street was listed in the DOJ’s Sexual Victimization in Juvenile Facilities report as one of the country’s worst facilities for sexual victimization. The DOJ report found that 4 of the 32 inmates (a rate higher than the national average) housed at Hogan Street at the time of the survey reported being sexually victimized while in custody, and that the abuse mostly involved staff members.
Watkins Mill Park Camp
- In January 2010, a DOJ report found that over 3% of youth inmates housed at the Watkins Mill Park Camp in Lawson, Missouri reported that they were victims of nonconsensual sex acts, including sexual abuse committed by staff. The DOJ report is one of the leading resources for gauging inmate-reported rates of sexual misconduct committed by both youth and staff within U.S. juvenile detention facilities, but recognizes that sexual victimization is often underreported, especially in facilities where survivors fear retaliation from abusers in positions of authority.
Hillsboro Treatment Center
- In June 2023, a journalistic investigation conducted by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch chronicled how long-standing staffing shortages continued to plague the Hillsboro Treatment Center in Jefferson County, which opened in 1999. According to a former youth specialist at the treatment center, the severe staffing shortage and constant churn of counselors resulted in rampant violence, abuse, and riots, and contributed to a toxic staff culture that made youth specialists less empathetic and more prone to misconduct.
While the Missouri Department of Youth Services has received praise for transitioning its juvenile justice system away from punitive incarceration and more toward rehabilitation, it has still struggled with years of problematic issues that are known to increase risks of abuse and misconduct.
This includes chronic staffing shortages and high turnover rates of management and youth specialists which, in addition to hindering staff’s ability to provide rehabilitative services, exacerbated long-standing problems of violence, riots, escapes, and staff-on-inmate abuse.
We’re Investigating Sex Abuse Claims Involving All Missouri Juvenile Detention Centers
Levy Konigsberg is known nationally for representing former youth inmates in the fight for justice, and has extensive experience handling claims against city, county, and state-operated jails and juvenile detention systems across the country.
Now, we’re helping survivors from all current and former youth detention centers, treatment centers, and other Missouri youth detention facilities where staff-on-inmate sexual abuse may have occurred. Some of these facilities include:
- St. Louis County Juvenile Detention Center
- Hogan Street Regional Youth Center
- W.E. Sears Youth Center in Poplar Bluff
- Watkins Mill Park Camp in Lawson
- Riverbend Treatment Center in St. Joseph
- Hillsboro Treatment Center in Jefferson County
- Closed DYS-facilities, including Babler Lodge in Wildwood, Spanish Lake Cottage and Discovery Hall in Bellefontaine Neighbors, and Montgomery City Youth Center, Booneville Training School, and Chillicothe Training School.
If you were sexually abused at these or any other youth detention centers operating in Missouri, 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.
Missouri’s Civil Sexual Abuse Statute of Limitations
In Missouri, survivors of childhood sexual abuse have a limited amount of time to pursue civil lawsuits and damages. This statute of limitations varies depending on whether lawsuits are brought against abusers or institutions.
The statute of limitations for claims brought against abusers is:
- Within 10 years from the date a survivor turns 21; or
- Within three years from the date a survivor discovers injuries caused by their childhood sexual abuse (i.e. depression, addiction, incarceration, etc.).
Survivors have even less time to file claims against institutions that failed to protect them from abuse. Filing claims against responsible entities is nearly always preferable because institutional defendants have the financial means and insurance to fairly compensate victims.
In claims brought against entities, survivors must bring their suits:
- Before the age of 26; or
- Within three years from the date they discover the connection between their abuse and resulting damages.
Legal Update: Survivor-Friendly Legislation Pending in Missouri
As in other states, Missouri has seen growing momentum to change the statute of limitations in civil sexual abuse cases. That’s because research resoundingly agrees that survivors of sexual abuse often take decades to process their abuse and its impact on their lives. According to Child USA, a nonprofit think tank, the average age that victims report childhood sexual abuse is 52.
Recognizing the challenges survivors face in processing abuse, and how short statutes of limitations function as a barrier to justice more often than not, Missouri lawmakers have proposed a measure to give survivors greater opportunities to seek justice.
If passed, the pending law would:
- Extend the civil statute of limitations for child victims to age 55.
- Create a temporary two-year window for child sexual abuse survivors to file claims over abuse that occurred at any time in the past.
Our team at Levy Konigsberg is readily available to help survivors evaluate the statute of limitations that applies to their claims. We are also closely tracking the proposed sexual abuse measure in Missouri and can help survivors looking for information about filing claims now under the current statute of limitations or in the future under an extended statute of limitations or temporary lookback window, should the pending measure become law.
Do I Have a Case?
You may have grounds to pursue legal action if:
- You were sexually abused by a youth specialist, counselor, guard, or other juvenile detention center staff member.
- The abuse occurred at any juvenile detention center or youth treatment center in Missouri.
Levy Konigsberg helps survivors pursue justice and compensation through civil lawsuits filed against the Missouri Department of Youth Services and other institutional defendants. As civil claims, the cases we handle are separate from any criminal proceedings concerning abusers and focus solely on liability for damages.
This means that survivors can still pursue and prevail in civil claims even when:
- An abuser was never charged with a crime.
- An abuser was never convicted or was found Not Guilty in a criminal case.
- An abuser is deceased.
Our attorneys have extensive experience handling sexual abuse cases involving staff-on-inmate sexual 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 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 Missouri, 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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