Cheltenham Youth Detention Center Sex Abuse Lawsuits

This page will discuss civil lawsuits being brought by former juvenile inmates at the Cheltenham You Detention Center who were the victims of sexual abuse at that facility. Countless young detainees at Cheltenham may have been victimized by staff or other offenders at the facility over the years. Thanks to a new law in Maryland, these victims are now coming forward and filing lawsuits to get financial compensation for their injuries.

About Cheltenham Youth Detention Center

Situated in Prince George’s County, Cheltenham operates as a secure detention center catering to both male and female juveniles awaiting court proceedings or placement in treatment facilities. It houses male juvenile offenders from the DC suburbs and southern Maryland: Prince George’s, Montgomery, Anne Arundel, Calvert, Charles, and St. Mary’s Counties.

Originally established in 1870 as the Cheltenham Youth Detention Center, the facility has undergone several name changes over the years. In 1937, it became recognized as the Cheltenham School for Boys, and twelve years later, it was rebranded as the Boys’ Village of Maryland. From 1992 to 2016, it was referred to as the Cheltenham Youth Facility until the inauguration of the new facility, which returned to the name Cheltenham Youth Detention Center.

Cheltenham offers a range of services including dietary, medical, educational, and counseling, along with recreational facilities. Youth residents attend year-round schooling within the facility, five days a week, for six hours each day.

Cheltenham has been the subject of significant scrutiny over the years regarding mistreatment and alleged abuse of inmates. In 2010, the Department of Justice conducted an investigation into these allegations and issued a formal report identifying a variety of abuses and shortcomings at the facility. Cheltenham was also targeted in a recent investigation by the Maryland Attorney General’s Office.

New Lawsuits Over Sex Abuse at Cheltenham

In 2023, a new law took effect in Maryland which eliminated the statute of limitations for civil lawsuits based on sexual abuse against minors. This new law allows individuals who were the victim of sexual abuse when they were minors (under 18) to file civil lawsuits even decades after the abuse occurred. The new law is called the Maryland Child Victims Act of 2023 (“CVA”).

Just a month after the CVA became law in Maryland, a group of former inmates at Cheltenham detention facility filed a lawsuit against the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services (“MDJS”). The plaintiffs in the lawsuit allege that while they were inmates at Cheltenham, they became the victims of sexual abuse and assault by staff members and by other inmates. The lawsuit seeks to hold MDJS liable for negligently failing to protect juvenile inmates at Cheltenham and allowing the abuse to occur.

The lawsuit contends that Cheltenham was a “hotbed of sexual abuse,” and that MDJS habitually failed to screen and supervise staff members at the facility. It also accuses MDJS of failing to enact proper procedures for preventing staff from abusing inmates and allowing staff to use threats of retaliation to silence victims.

The group of former Cheltenham inmates who brought the lawsuit includes over 20 men and 3 women. One of the male victims agreed to release details of his sexual abuse to the Baltimore Sun. The victim alleges that he was sexually abused at Cheltenham at least 7 separate times in the mid-1990s. He explains who guards at Cheltenham sexually abused and exploited juvenile inmates at the facility and used physical threats to keep them silent.

What Constitutes Sexual Abuse?

For legal purposes, sex abuse is defined as any intentional sexual contact (either directly of the intimate parts of the victim for the purpose of sexually gratifying the abuser. This definition covers everything from forcible rape to indecent exposure.

The critical element that defines all types and categories of sexual abuse or assault is the lack of consent. Without consent, any form of sexual contact is actionable as sexual abuse or assault. Children (under the age of 18) lack the legal capacity to give consent to sexual contact. Therefore, any intentional sexual contact by an adult with a minor is necessarily considered sexual abuse.

Holding Cheltenham Liable for Sexual Abuse

Juvenile detention facility like Cheltenham and the MDJS have a legal duty to take measure to ensure that juvenile inmates in their custody are safe and not subjected to sexual assault and sexual abuse by staff, or by other inmates. Under the negligent supervision of MDJS, Cheltenham and other facilities habitually failed to adequately protect detainees. This means that the MDJS can be held liable for negligence in a sex abuse civil lawsuit.

Settlement Value of Cheltenham Sex abuse Lawsuits

The settlement value of sex abuse lawsuits against the Cheltenham Youth Detention Center and other facilities is based on several factors. Below is a list of the primary factors that tend to drive the value of these sex abuse cases up or down.

Evidence Strength: How strong and good the proof is that shows the sexual abuse really happened is super important for how much an abuse case is worth. If there’s solid, trustworthy proof backing up what the person says happened, the case is worth a lot more.

Abuse Severity: How bad and how often the sexual abuse happened can also make the case more valuable. If it happened a lot or lasted a long time, the case is worth more than if it only happened once.

Your Lawyer: How good your lawyer is at handling the case matters a lot. Both the victim’s lawyer and the church’s or company’s lawyer can affect how much money you might get in the end.

The new CVA law in Maryland which allows child sex abuse victims to sue years later, imposes a maximum cap on the amount of damages that plaintiffs can be awarded in civil cases. When the defendant is a state agency, like the Cheltenham and MDJS, the cap is $850,000.

Contact Us About Sex Abuse Lawsuits

If you are thinking about bringing a sexual abuse lawsuit against Cheltenham Youth Detention Center or another juvenile facility in Maryland, contact our sex abuse lawyers today for free consultation. Contact us online or call us at 800-553-8082.

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