Illinois Juvenile Detention Center Sexual Abuse Lawsuits



Illinois Juvenile Detention Center Sexual Abuse Lawsuits

For far too long, the state of Illinois has allowed a pervasive culture of physical and sexual abuse to fester unchecked within its youth detention centers. Extensive federal investigations, criminal prosecutions, and high-profile Illinois juvenile detention center lawsuits have shone a spotlight on the horrific endemic conditions that vulnerable incarcerated youth have been subjected to for decades. 

If you are a survivor of sexual abuse while in an Illinois juvenile detention center, you may be eligible to recover compensation for the harm inflicted upon you through an Illinois detention center sexual abuse lawsuit. Contact a compassionate and caring Illinois personal injury lawyer from Dolman Law Group today to discuss your case during a free and confidential consultation. 

Federal Investigations Involving Illinois Detention Centers

In 2013, a U.S. Department of Justice survey examining seven Illinois youth detention facilities made the shocking revelation—Illinois ranked among the four worst states in the nation for juvenile inmate abuse. An appalling 15% of youth across Illinois facilities reported suffering sexual abuse, a rate 35% higher than the already unacceptable national average. Staff misconduct was identified as the primary driver behind Illinois' sky-high abuse rates.

The DOJ's Bureau of Justice Statistics found that between 2009-2012, numerous facilities saw their already high rates of staff sexual abuse increase even further:

  • IYC Harrisburg: 11.8% to 14.7%  
  • IYC Joliet: 13.9% to an astonishing 20% (over double the national average)
  • IYC Kewanee: 5.7% to 12%

These disturbing DOJ findings corroborate patterns seen in other criminal cases and lawsuits, showing that the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice (IDJJ) and its facilities have consistently failed in their duty to properly investigate complaints, discipline abusive staff, and protect the youth in their custody. 

Trouble Record of Sexual Abuse at Juvenile Detention Centers in Illinois

In May, a group of 95 people filed a lawsuit in Illinois claiming state employees sexually abused them as children in juvenile detention centers across the state from 1996 to 2017. The lawsuit reported incidents of gang rape, forced oral sex, beatings, and groping of children by corrections officers, sergeants, nurses, therapists, a chaplain, and others at nine youth centers across the state. Many of the men and women who brought the lawsuit claim they were threatened or rewarded to remain silent about the widespread abuse. 

The reports of sexual abuse date back over two decades. Some of the state-run juvenile centers with the most troubling records of sexual abuse include:

  • IYC Joliet (closed 2013): At this maximum-security facility, a guard was sentenced to 6 years for sexually assaulting a 17-year-old in 2008.
  • IYC St. Charles: In 2021, a juvenile specialist pled guilty to sexual misconduct with a minor resident. 
  • IYC Warrenville (co-ed): In 2000, a teacher was convicted for abusing two teens. In 2006, a supervisor was convicted of sexual contact with a 16-year-old girl.
  • IYC Kewanee (closed 2016): Understaffing enabled abuse at this remote facility housing many youth with mental illness.
  • IYC Murphysboro (closed 2013): In 2003, a kitchen supervisor was arrested for sexually abusing several youth "cadets."
illinois juvenile detention center sexual abuse 2

The Illinois lawsuit comes amid growing concerns about child sexual abuse in juvenile justice facilities in Illinois and across the nation. According to the Department of Justice’s National Survey of Youth in Custody, children in these facilities experience “higher rates of sexual victimization than adults in prisons or jails.”

Incarcerated children deserve safety and proper care, not trauma and abuse that devastates their lives. By enabling systemic sexual abuse, the state of Illinois has catastrophically failed in this basic responsibility. Survivors deserve justice and accountability through civil lawsuits against the IDJJ and individual perpetrators. 

What Constitutes "Sexual Abuse or Assault"?

In legal terms, sexual abuse or sexual assault is defined as any form of sexual contact or touching that occurs without consent and is driven by sexual intent. When a case involves a child, the lack of consent is automatically satisfied, as children are legally incapable of giving consent. The sexual intent element requires that the touching involve intimate body parts and be motivated by the desire for sexual gratification.

Holding Illinois Juvenile Detention Centers Accountable for Sexual Abuse

Individuals who have suffered sexual abuse or assault while in the custody of an Illinois juvenile facility or detention center have the right to seek financial compensation through a civil lawsuit against the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice. The IDJJ can be held responsible for its negligence in failing to adequately protect the victim or prevent the abuse from occurring.

In most instances, the sexual abuse takes place within the facility and is perpetrated by staff members, clearly establishing the IDJJ's liability for the incident. However, even in cases where another inmate or juvenile commits the abuse or assault, the IDJJ can still be held accountable for not providing sufficient protection to those in its care.

The Role of the Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act

Illinois' Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act (ANCRA) is a crucial piece of legislation designed to safeguard children by requiring certain professionals and institutions to report suspected cases of child abuse or neglect. The Act defines abuse as physical injury, sexual abuse, or emotional harm inflicted on a child by a caregiver. At the same time, neglect encompasses a caregiver's failure to provide adequate supervision, food, clothing, shelter, or medical care.

Under ANCRA, mandated reporters include medical professionals, teachers, social workers, law enforcement officers, and childcare providers, among others. These individuals are obligated to immediately report to the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) via a dedicated hotline or other designated channels if they have reasonable cause to suspect abuse or neglect of a child they encounter in their professional or official capacity.

The Act offers protection from liability for mandated reporters who make good-faith reports and maintain the confidentiality of their identities, with certain exceptions. Institutions that fail to adhere to these reporting requirements can face penalties, underscoring the importance of accountability and vigilance in ensuring the well-being of children.

ANCRA requires juvenile detention facilities to not only conduct internal investigations into alleged sexual abuse but also to report such incidents to the appropriate authorities. By mandating this dual responsibility, the Act seeks to ensure that instances of abuse are thoroughly examined and addressed, both within the facility and by external oversight bodies.

Statute of Limitations for Sexual Abuse Lawsuits in Illinois

In Illinois, the statute of limitations for filing a civil lawsuit related to childhood sexual abuse has undergone significant changes in recent years. The current law, effective January 1, 2020, provides survivors of childhood sexual abuse with more time to seek justice through the legal system.

Under the amended law, survivors of childhood sexual abuse have 20 years from the day they turn 18 to file a civil lawsuit against their abuser and any associated institutions or entities. In other words, survivors have until their 38th birthday to file a civil lawsuit against their abuser. 

It's important to note that this statute of limitations applies to civil lawsuits, which are distinct from criminal prosecutions. In criminal cases, there is no statute of limitations for felony criminal sexual assault or sexual abuse crimes against children in Illinois. This means that a perpetrator can be prosecuted criminally at any time, regardless of how long ago the abuse occurred.

The changes to the statute of limitations in Illinois reflect a growing understanding of the long-term impact of childhood sexual abuse and the importance of providing survivors with adequate time and opportunities to seek justice and healing.

Factors Influencing Settlement Amounts in Illinois Juvenile Detention Center Sex Abuse Cases

In Illinois juvenile detention center sex abuse lawsuits, plaintiffs often seek damages of $2 million or more, reflecting the severe and enduring harm caused by the abuse, the shocking extent of institutional failures, and the extensive costs associated with the survivor's healing process and ongoing needs. When calculating settlement amounts, several key factors come into play:

  • Nature and Duration of Abuse: The severity of the sexual abuse, including its duration and the physical and psychological trauma inflicted, plays a significant role in determining the settlement amount.
  • Impact on the Survivor: Both the immediate and long-term consequences of the abuse on the survivor's mental health, daily functioning, and future prospects are considered. Evaluations by psychologists and other experts provide valuable evidence of the survivor's trauma and its effects.
  • Institutional Culpability: The level of negligence or misconduct exhibited by the institution can greatly influence settlement payouts. Juries are likely to be more outraged by clear failures to prevent abuse, inadequate supervision, and disregard for abuse reports, leading to higher settlement amounts for institutions with evidence of systemic breakdowns.
  • Economic Damages: While many cases do not involve substantial economic damages, some claims may include costs related to medical treatment, psychological counseling, lost wages, and other financial impacts suffered by the survivor.
  • Non-Economic Damages: These subjective damages, such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life, often make up significant portions of the settlement and are awarded by the jury as compensation.
  • Punitive Damages: In instances of egregious negligence or intentional misconduct, courts may impose punitive damages to penalize the institution and discourage future wrongdoing. The potential for punitive damages can significantly influence settlement amounts.

In Illinois, there is no cap on damages in sexual abuse cases, meaning that the amount of compensation a survivor may receive is not limited by law. This allows juries and judges to award damages that fully reflect the severity of the harm suffered by the survivor.

The Mechanics of Illinois Detention Center Lawsuits

Pursuing legal action solely against individual perpetrators often proves fruitless, as they typically lack the financial means to adequately compensate survivors. Moreover, focusing only on individual abusers fails to address the systemic issues within the institution that enabled the abuse. Institutional defendants, including state agencies, are better equipped to provide appropriate compensation and implement necessary changes to prevent future abuse, ensuring both justice for survivors and proactive measures to protect others.

illinois juvenile detention center sexual abuse

At the core of these lawsuits is the state's fundamental duty to protect the minors in its custody, which includes providing for their basic needs and ensuring their safety from sexual assault by both peers and the very individuals entrusted with their care and protection. The state's breach of these duties has led to rampant physical and sexual abuse within juvenile detention facilities, subjecting vulnerable children, despite their past challenges, to further physical and psychological harm.

Shockingly, previous reports of abuse failed to prompt adequate preventive measures by the State of Illinois and its employees. This negligence encompassed failures in staff supervision, policy implementation, employee training, and the effectiveness of safety procedures. Furthermore, these lawsuits underscore a pervasive pattern of insufficient responses to abuse allegations, perpetuating the cycle of victimization.

As a result of this negligence, these children have endured immense physical, emotional, and psychological trauma, grappling with pain, distress, diminished self-esteem, and the long-term consequences of abuse. By seeking compensation for these damages, Illinois detention center sex abuse lawsuits aim to hold the State of Illinois responsible for its egregious failure to safeguard the vulnerable minors entrusted to its care in juvenile detention facilities.

Illinois Juvenile Detention Centers 

The Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice establishes minimum standards for juvenile detention centers nationwide. In 2021, for the first time since 1998, the IDJJ updated its County Detention Standards, which included updates such as the addition of portions for the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA), designed to prevent sexual abuse and sexual harassment and to reduce the resulting harm. 

County detention facilities in Illinois include:

Adams County Juvenile Detention 

200 N. 52nd Street

Quincy, LI 62301


Champaign County Detention 

400 Art Bartell Drive

Urbana, LI 61802


Cook County Juvenile Detention

1100 South Hamilton Ave. 

Chicago, IL 60612-4284 


Franklin County Juvenile Detention Center 

409 East Washington

Benton, LI 62812


Kane County Juvenile Detention Center 

37W655, Rt. #38

St. Charles, LI 60175


Mary Davis Detention Home 

1319 East Fifth Street 

Galesburg, IL 61401


Hulse Detention Center - Lake County 

25467 N. Milwaukee Ave.

Vernon Hills, IL 60061


LaSalle County Detention Home 

707 Etna Road

Ottawa, IL 61350


Madison County Detention 

100 West Fifth Ave.

Edwardsville, IL 62025 


McLean County Detention 

903 North Main Street

Normal, LI 61761


Peoria County Detention Center 

223 N. Maxwell Road

Peoria, IL 61604


St. Clair County Detention 

9006 Lebanon Road

Belleville, IL 62223


Sangamon County/Custody Services Division 

2201 S. Dirksen Parkway

Springfield, LI 62703


River Valley Justice Center Will County Juvenile Detention 

3200 W. McDonough St.

Joliet, IL 60436


Vermilion County Juvenile Detention Center 

150 Sager

Danville, LI 61832


Winnebago County Juvenile Detention Center

5350 Northrock Drive

Rockford, IL 61103


Illinois Youth Centers

IDJJ also serves youth in five secure facilities across Illinois. The superintendents are responsible for facility operations and the overall care and custody of youth housed there. IDJJ youth centers include:

IYC Chicago

100 N. Western Ave.
Chicago, IL 60612

IYC Harrisburg

1201 W. Poplar
Harrisburg, IL 62946


IYC Pere Marquette

17808 State Highway 100W

Grafton, IL 62037


IYC Warrenville

30W 200 Ferry Rd

Naperville, IL 60563


Phoenix Emerging Adults Career & Education (PEACE) Center- St. Charles

3825 Campton Hills Rd

St. Charles, IL 60175


Contact the Child Sexual Abuse Lawyers at Dolman Law Group Today

Child sexual abuse is devastating and often has long-lasting consequences. Navigating the legal system to protect your rights and hold your abuser accountable can feel overwhelming. You don’t have to face this alone. The experienced and compassionate attorneys at Dolman Law Group will fight for justice on your behalf. If you are a survivor of sexual abuse at an Illinois juvenile detention center, let us negotiate a settlement or file a lawsuit on your behalf. We promise to work tirelessly to defend your rights at every turn.

For a free and confidential consultation, please call our dedicated attorneys at our Illinois office at 833-552-7274 or fill out our online contact form. You pay nothing upfront and no legal fees unless we successfully resolve your case. Whenever you feel ready, we are here to support you.

The Dolman Law Group works with local counsel in any jurisdiction outside Florida for the purpose of filing lawsuits in jurisdictions wherein we are not licensed. Thus, we will follow each State’s ethical rules to ensure a local attorney is involved.