Hickey School Sexual Abuse Lawsuits

This page examines civil lawsuits involving sexual abuse of juvenile inmates at the Charles H. Hickey School (referred to as the “Hickey School”), a juvenile detention facility in Maryland. During its decades of operation, numerous child detainees at the Hickey School may have experienced sexual abuse perpetrated by staff members.

A recent Maryland law now empowers these victims to step forward and pursue civil lawsuits against the state to seek financial compensation. Our lawyers are handling these claims.  If you have a potential sex abuse lawsuit against the Hickey School, call our Baltimore-based sex abuse lawyers today at 800-553-8082 or get a free online consultation. Our attorneys will fight to get you the overdue compensation that you deserve.

The Hickey School

Operated by the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services, the Hickey School is situated in Parkville, Maryland. Its origins trace back to the mid-19th Century when it was established as the “House of Refuge” on Frederick Avenue in Baltimore City. This facility was the very first detention center in Maryland dedicated to detaining juvenile offenders separately from adults. In the early 1900s, it was renamed the Maryland Training School for Boys and relocated from the city to its current site on Old Harford Road.

In 1985, it was renamed and officially became the Hickey School in honor of Charles H. Hickey, a former Baltimore County Sheriff who passed away in 1984 after years of community service. Between 1991 and 2004, the Hickey School was under the sole management of private companies contracted by the state. The experiment with private contractors did not go well, however, so in 2004, the Department of Juvenile Services resumed direct operational oversight of the Hickey School.

The Hickey School hosted two different categories of male juvenile detainees: (1) individuals in a treatment program or awaiting a court date, and (2) juvenile offenders who have already been sentenced to detention by the court. Juvenile detainees at the facility a locked in dormitories and receive school, as well as medical care.  But while it was billed as a “secure juvenile detention center for youth awaiting court or placement” it was a torture chamber for sexual and other abuse for many children placed at Charles Hickey.

Recent Lawsuits Claim Sexual Abuse at the Charles Hickey School

Last year, new Maryland legislation known as the Child Victim’s Act went into effect and lifted the statute of limitations for civil lawsuits pertaining to child sexual abuse. This significant legal change empowers individuals who have experienced childhood sexual abuse to pursue legal action even decades later.

When this law passed, more than 50 victims came forward and filed a civil sex abuse lawsuit asserting that they were subjected to sexual abuse during their time at the Hickey School and other juvenile detention facilities in Maryland, including the Waxter School. The lawsuit alleges that specific staff members at these institutions engaged in sexual abuse and assault against the plaintiffs during their detainment. Many of these incidents purportedly occurred while the victims were confined to their rooms at the Hickey School.

There is debate over whether this new statute of limitations law is constitutional will soon find its way to the Maryland Supreme Court.  But the ruling will not impact the Hickey School sex abuse lawsuits.  Why?  Because the state has a right to waive the statute of limitations against itself.  This is not in dispute.  So any Charles Hickey school abuse cases will continue even in the (unlikely) event that the Maryland high court strikes down the law.

The Charles Hickey School Problem Was Open and Obvious

Ultimately, sex abuse lawsuits against the Charles Hickey School highlight longstanding issues within Maryland’s juvenile detention system, criticized for its mismanagement and described by the governor as the antithesis of what such a system should be. An investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice in the early 2000s into CHS revealed appalling conditions, including rampant sexual abuse without adequate preventive measures.

The tragedy is no one cared and you know those boys were fully aware of this and carry that with them today as adults.  The Department of Juvenile Services did next to nothing – it blithely permitted the awful abuse of countless children by staff members over several generations.

No one was listening when kids spoke up. Well, people are listening now and unless larges settlement offers are made to Hickey School victims, juries will be listening soon enough.


Victims of Child Sexual Abuse Can Get Money

If someone experienced sexual abuse or assault when they were a child at the Hickey School or any other youth jail, they can now get money in a civil lawsuit. Maryland made a new law in 2023 called the Child Victims Act. This law says it doesn’t matter how long ago the abuse happened; victims can still sue at any time. The new law gets rid of any time limits that used to stop these cases from being brought.

What Counts as Sexual Abuse?

Sexual abuse or assault means someone purposely touching private parts to hurt or shame the victim or make themselves feel good, either directly or through clothes. This could be anything from forcing someone to have sex to showing private parts inappropriately.

The big thing that makes it sexual abuse or assault is that the victim didn’t agree to it. When kids (under 18) are involved, they can’t agree to sexual stuff legally. So, if an adult does anything sexual to a kid, it’s considered sexual abuse.

Holding the Hickey School Liable for Abuse

The Department of Juvenile Services and facilities like the Hickey School have a legal duty to ensure that juvenile offenders at the facility are reasonably safe and not the victim of sexual abuse by staff, or by other detainees. The Hickey School habitually breached this duty by failing to adequately protect detainees. This means that the Department of Juvenile Services can be held liable for negligence in a sex abuse civil lawsuit.

How Much Money You Can Get from Hickey School Sex Abuse Cases

The amount of money you can get from suing the Hickey School or other places for sex abuse depends on a few things. Here are the three main things that impact that money you will receive as settlement compensation or at trial:

  • How Strong the Proof Is: If there’s good proof that the abuse really happened, like solid evidence, your case will likely be worth more money. But so many of these abusers had multiple victims – it will not be
  • How Bad the Abuse Was: If the abuse was really bad or went on for a long time, your case could be worth more money than if it only happened once. Does that mean you cannot get a very large settlement amount if you were abused just once? Of course not.  But length and severity of abuse will be a part of how Charles Hickey school settlement payouts are calculated.
  • How the Abuse Impacted the Victim: The impact on the victim is also crucial, including physical injuries, psychological trauma such as PTSD, depression, and anxiety, and how the abuse has affected the victim’s daily life, relationships, education, and career prospects.
  • The Victim’s Age: The age of the victim at the time of the abuse is another significant consideration, as younger victims will typically receive higher settlement payouts because of the long-term impact on their development and life trajectory.
  • Your Lawyer: Having a good Hickey School Detention Center lawyer will make a big difference in how much money you end up getting.

But there’s a limit to how much money you can get. In Maryland, there’s a maximum amount you can be awarded in these cases. If you’re suing a place like the Hickey School, the most you can get is $890,000.

Contact Us About Hickey School Sex Abuse Lawsuits

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

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