Maryland Juvenile Detention Center Sex Abuse Lawsuits

Recent reports and investigations have shown that detainees at Maryland juvenile detention centers (e.g., the Hickey School and Waxter) were often subjected to sexual abuse and assault by staff and other inmates. Thanks to a new law in Maryland, victims of child sexual abuse at Maryland juvenile detention schools can now bring civil lawsuits against the state and get financial compensation. This page will look at sex abuse lawsuits against juvenile facilities in Maryland.

About Maryland Juvenile Detention Centers

In Maryland, juvenile criminal offenders (anyone under the age of 18) are processed in a separate criminal justice system administered by both the courts and the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services (“DJS”). For those juveniles who are charged with and/or convicted of serious offenses, DJS operates a number of juvenile detention facilities throughout the state.  The list below shows all current DJS detention facilities and centers in Maryland:

Abuse at Maryland Juvenile Detention Centers

Maryland’s juvenile detention facilities have a long and sad history of sexual abuse and mistreatment of their underage inmates. These problems have been well documented over the years as the facilities have been the subject of investigations and, more recently, major civil lawsuits.

The facts uncovered during these various investigations showed that juvenile detention facilities in Maryland were grossly negligent in allowing the regular sexual and physical abuse of inmates to occur with little or no oversight. The responsible parties, which include the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services (as well as private contractors at some individual facilities, allowed staff-on-inmate violence and sexual abuse to occur over many years.

Below is a brief list of some of the current sexual abuse litigation involving specific juvenile detention facilities in Maryland.

Hickey School Sex Abuse Lawsuits

The Hickey School is one of the oldest and largest juvenile detention facilities in the state of Maryland. The Hickey School houses male juvenile offenders who are awaiting court dates and who have already been sentenced. It is currently operated directly by DJS, but between 1991 and 2004 the Charles Hickey School was operated by private contractors.

Recent reports and investigations have revealed that abuse of juvenile detainees, including sexual abuse and assault, at the Hickey School was widespread over the years. A growing number of former inmates at the Hickey School have joined in civil lawsuits against Hickey School and DJS recently brought under the new Maryland law.

Most of the calls our juvenile detention center sex abuse lawyers are getting are from the Charles Hickey School.

Waxter Detention Center Sex Abuse Lawsuits

The Thomas Waxter Children’s Center (“Waxter”) was a juvenile correctional and detention facility operated by DJS and located in Laurel. Waxter served as a detention facility for female juvenile offenders from the early 1950s until the facility was shut down in January 2022. Waxter was the biggest detention facility for female juvenile offenders in Maryland, with a capacity for over 160 inmates at its peak.

Waxter was notorious for rampant abuse of female juvenile offenders, including sexual abuse and assault. The facility was the subject of several investigations and reports by both the state and federal authorities. Recently, a large number of women who were sexually abused as inmates at Waxter have come forward and filed civil lawsuits against DJS.

Cheltenham Sex Abuse Lawsuits

Cheltenham is a juvenile detention center in P.G. County that houses male and some female juvenile offenders from the DC suburbs and southern Maryland: Prince George’s, Montgomery, Anne Arundel, Calvert, Charles, and St. Mary’s Counties. Formerly known as Boys Village, Cheltenham has been around since 1870.

The facility has earned a terrible reputation for abuse and mistreatment, leading to investigations by both the state of Maryland and the DOJ. The DOJ 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.

Baltimore City Juvenile Justice Center Sex Abuse Lawsuits

Baltimore City Juvenile Justice Center (BCJJC) is a relatively new juvenile detention facility in Maryland. BCJJC was opened in 2003 and is located on Gay Street in Baltimore City. BCJJC is operated by DJS and it primarily houses juvenile offenders from Baltimore who have been charged or convicted with violent crimes.  BCJJC does not have a long and well-documented history of abuse and mistreatment similar to other facilities, but it certainly has its fair share of issues.

Child Sexual Abuse Victims Can Now Get Compensation

Anyone who was the victim of childhood sexual abuse at a juvenile detention or correctional facility in Maryland can now file a civil lawsuit against the state and DJS and get financial compensation. Under the new Maryland Child Victims Act (“CVA”) 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.

The enactment of the CVA has led to a growing wave of sexual abuse civil lawsuits being brought by former juvenile offenders who were victimized at DJS facilities in Maryland.

What Qualifies as “Sexual Abuse or Assault”?

For legal purposes, sexual abuse or sexual assault is defined as any type of unwanted and non-consensual sexual contact or touching. The two essential elements that define sexual assault are (1) lack of consent and (2) sexual intent. Children cannot legally consent to sexual contact, so any case involving a child satisfies the first element. As for sexual intent, this element requires that the touching involve sexual parts of the body and be done with the purpose of sexual gratification.

Holding Juvenile Detention Centers Liable for Sexual Abuse

Victims of sexual abuse or sexual assault at a Maryland juvenile facility or juvenile detention center like Waxter can get financial compensation by bringing a civil lawsuit against the Department of Juvenile Services. DJS can be held liable in a civil lawsuit for negligently failing to protect the victim or prevent the abuse from happening.

In most cases, the sexual abuse occurred at the facility and was committed by staff members. In that situation, DJS will have clear liability for the incident. Even when another inmate or juvenile commits the abuse or assault, DJS can still be held liable for failing to provide adequate protection.

Settlement Value of Juvenile Detention Center Sex Abuse Cases

The amount of money you can get from suing DJS for sexual abuse at a juvenile facility in Maryland depends on a few things. Here are the main things that make the money you might get more or less:

Strength of Evidence: In many cases, the only evidence is the victim’s testimony. That is often enough to establish that the abuse happened. However, if there is additional evidence to substantiate the victim’s testimony it will significantly boost the value of the case.

Severity of Abuse: The severity of the sexual abuse inflicted on a victim also makes a major difference in the value of the case. If there were multiple incident

Your Lawyer: Having a good lawyer can 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 $850,000.

Contact Us About Maryland Juvenile Detention Center Sex Abuse Lawsuits

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

Contact Information