Good Shepard Sex Abuse Lawsuits

This page will look at recent sexual abuse lawsuits filed by former patients at the Good Shepard Services mental health treatment center for youth. The lawsuits were filed under the new law CVA law in Maryland and they alleged that the state Department of Juvenile Services negligently failed to prevent young women from being sexually abused at Good Shepard.


Waxter School Sex Abuse Lawsuits

Hickey School Sex Abuse Lawsuits

School Sex Abuse Lawsuits

Lawsuits Allege Sexual Abuse at Good Shepard Services

Two lawsuits filed on Tuesday assert that over three dozen individuals were subjected to childhood sexual abuse at a Maryland residential program for youths that ceased operations in 2017 amidst similar accusations. Attorneys in these separate legal actions outlined decades of alleged abuse at the Good Shepherd Services behavioral health treatment center, which presented itself as a therapeutic and supportive environment for Maryland’s most vulnerable youth.

Established in 1864 by the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, a Catholic religious order dedicated to aiding women and girls, the program originally operated in Baltimore before relocating to its final site just outside the city. These latest lawsuits join a growing collection of sex abuse civil cases following Maryland’s removal of the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse cases last year.

Most of the female plaintiffs detailed experiences of being injected with sedatives that hindered their ability to resist abuse. Others described being bribed with food and gifts or threatened with violence and loss of privileges by their abusers, including nuns and priests employed at the center.

The lawsuits were directed against the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services and Department of Human Services, entities that contracted with Good Shepherd and referred children there for care. They also targeted the state Department of Health, responsible for overseeing residential facilities. Notably, the Sisters of the Good Shepherd religious order was not named as a defendant in either suit.

In a joint statement released Tuesday afternoon, the three state agencies acknowledged the lawsuits but noted they had not yet received the court papers. They affirmed their commitment to the safety and well-being of children under state care.

Good Shepherd closed in 2017 following state agencies’ decision to remove children from the program, prompted by a 2016 incident where one patient reported sexual assault and others showed signs of drug overdose after medication was stolen from a medical cart.

One plaintiff recounted confiding in a priest about abuse at the center during confession, only to be further victimized by the priest himself. This disclosure underscores broader concerns about clergy abuse, which played a role in recent legislative changes eliminating the statute of limitations for such cases.

Child Sexual Abuse Victims Can Now Get Compensation

Anyone who was the victim of childhood sexual abuse at Waxter or any other juvenile detention or correctional facility (state or private) can now file a civil lawsuit against that facility and get financial compensation. Under the new Maryland Child Victims Act which took effect in October 2023, civil lawsuits based on sexual abuse that occurred when the victim was a child (under age 18) are no longer subject to any statute of limitations. This means that child sex abuse victims can file lawsuits even for incidents that occurred decades ago.

How is Sexual Abuse Defined?

In the context of a civil lawsuit, sexual abuse or assault is often referred to as sexual battery. Under this definition, a wide range of acts (from groping a breast to violent rape) meets the definition of sex abuse. There are two key elements that must be present to meet the definition of sexual abuse. First, the contact or touching must intentionally done for the purpose of sexual gratification. The second essential element is the lack of consent. For intentional sexual touching to qualify as abuse or assault, it must be done without mutual consent. Legally, minors under the age of 18 cannot give consent to sexual touching. Any sexual contact with a minor by an adult is automatically considered sexual battery.

Holding State Agencies Liable for Juvenile Abuse

When a child is the victim of sexual abuse or assault at a juvenile facility or juvenile detention center run by the state, or by a private organization under a contract with the state, the facility, the contractor, and the responsible state agency can be held liable in a civil lawsuit for negligently failing to protect the victim or prevent the abuse from happening. When the sexual abuse at was committed by staff members at a facility, there is usually clear liability. Even when another inmate or juvenile commits the abuse or assault, the facility can still be held liable for failing to provide adequate protection.

Settlement Value of Child Sex Abuse Cases

The settlement value of a child sexual abuse lawsuit against a the state for negligently failing to prevent abuse by a third party, such as Good Shepard, will be driven by a variety of factors, such as:

  • Nature of the Abuse: the nature and severity of the sexual abuse or assault is the main factor driving the settlement value of these cases.
  • Evidence: Cases where the sexual abuse is supported by solid evidence, aside from the just the word of the victim, have a higher settlement value.
  • Liability Theory: An abuse case against a facility will have a higher settlement value if the plaintiff has a strong negligence claim against the facility.

In a lawsuit brought under the new Maryland Child Victims Act (CVA) for sexual abuse that occurred a long time ago, the maximum amount of compensation that a plaintiff can get is $850,000 when a state-run facility is a defendant. This is because the CVA includes a cap on damages for cases brought against state schools or facilities.

Contact Us About Sex Abuse Lawsuits

If you are thinking about bringing a sexual abuse lawsuit against a juvenile detention facility or program like Good Shepard, contact our sex abuse lawyers today for free consultation. Contact us online or call us at 800-553-8082.


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