Illinois Juvenile Detention Center Sexual Abuse Lawsuits

Legally Reviewed

This article has been reviewed, fact-checked, and updated by Matthew Dolman and Stanley Gipe. Matthew and Stanley have a combined 45 years of experience practicing law and have represented over 10,000 clients who sustained injuries as a result of negligence or abuse. Matthew and Stanley focus much of their practice on helping abuse victims to get the justice and compensation they deserve. We have filed cases against the LDS church, Catholic church, Souther Babtist church, Boyscots of America, school districts, detention centers, youth programs, and much more. Please note, this content should not be taken as legal advice from an attorney.


Dolman Law Group and our attorneys do our best to ensure the information in this article is up-to-date and accurate. However, this article may contain errors and should not be taken as advice from an attorney. If you need specific legal advice about your case, contact us directly using the form on this page or by clicking Contact in the top menu.

Tragically, Illinois has long been plagued by a systemic pattern of sexual and physical abuse within its juvenile detention facilities that has gone unchecked for too long. Thorough federal investigations, criminal cases, and prominent Illinois juvenile detention center sexual abuse lawsuits have exposed the appalling widespread conditions that at-risk youth in state custody have endured for generations. 

If you are a survivor of sexual abuse while detained in an Illinois detention facility, you may be eligible to recover compensation for the harm you endured. Contact a compassionate and caring sexual abuse lawyer from our team to discuss your case during a free and confidential consultation. 

teens in jail - children and teens sexually abused while incarcerated at Illinois juvenile detention centers

Since the news broke about the horrors that occurred at so many Illinois juvenile detention centers, more abuse survivors have stepped forward and are now taking action to secure the justice they deserve and the financial compensation they need to recover from their abuse. The sexual abuse lawyers who support Lawsuit Legal News are on the cutting edge of these developments, and we are dedicated to providing the best legal services for juvenile detention abuse survivors in Illinois.

The LLN team is working with local counsel to investigate reports of sexual abuse at all Illinois juvenile detention centers. While some of the most egregious cases of abuse occurred at Cook County juvenile detention centers, we are helping people who suffered abuse throughout the state system. Call our compassionate legal team for a free consultation today.

Illinois Juvenile Detention Center Sexual Abuse Lawsuit Update 

The LLN team is dedicated to providing the latest updates, opinions, and court happenings regarding the Illinois juvenile detention center sex abuse lawsuit on this page.

June 3, 2024 - 2 More Group Lawsuits Filed Claiming Former Youth Inmates Suffered Abuse

With the addition of two more lawsuits, more than 200 sexual abuse survivors are taking action against several defendants they claim are responsible for their abuse. Named defendants include the State of Illinois, the Illinois Department of Corrections, and the Department of Juvenile Justice. The alleged abuse occurred between 1997 and 2019, involving victims aged 10 to 17 at the time. The abuse allegedly happened at detainee centers located in Chicago, Harrisburg, Joliet, Kewanee, Murphysboro, St. Charles, Valley View, and Warrenville.

Based on the three lawsuits filed in the past few months, we expect more abuse survivors to take action against their abusers and the government entities that allowed the abuse to happen by filing civil lawsuits. If you or someone you know suffered sexual abuse while housed in an Illinois youth detention facility, contact the legal team at Lawsuit Legal News to learn more about your legal rights during a free consultation.

May 6, 2024 - Lawsuit Filed on Behalf of 95 Former Detainees Sexually Abused at an Illinois Juvenile Detention Center

A lawsuit was filed on behalf of 95 individuals in the Illinois Court of Claims. The plaintiffs were formerly incarcerated at juvenile detention centers between 1996 and 2017 and were between the ages of 12 and 17 when the abuse occurred. While the lawsuit covers claims through 2017, it affirmatively states that sexual abuse is still rampant in juvenile detention centers. 

According to this lawsuit, Joliet Detention Center was the worst offender. However, nine facilities were mentioned in total. Although several of these locations have since closed their doors, sadly, five Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice facilities remain open to this day. Those five facilities are in Chicago, Harrisburg, Grafton, Warrenville, and St. Charles. 

This lawsuit also names one offender as a former Supervisor at Harrisburg who is now a Mayor of a nearby town. Much of the sexual abuse referenced in the lawsuit occurred under the threat of physical beatings and mental abuse.

Federal Investigations into Illinois Juvenile Detention Facilities

A 2013 U.S. Department of Justice investigation that assessed nationwide juvenile detention centers made a disturbing discovery—Illinois was among four states with the highest rates of youth inmate abuse in the country. A staggering 15% of juveniles in Illinois facilities reported experiencing sexual abuse, which is 35% higher than the already unacceptable national average related to child victims and young inmates. The primary cause of Illinois' alarmingly high abuse rates was attributed to staff misconduct.

The Bureau of Justice Statistics, a division of the DOJ, discovered that several facilities had seen substantial increases in their already elevated rates of staff sexual abuse between 2009 and 2012:

  • Illinois Youth Center Harrisburg: Rose from 11.8% to 14.7%
  • Illinois Youth Center Joliet: Skyrocketed from 13.9% to a shocking 20% (more than twice the national average)
  • Illinois Youth Center Kewanee: Increased from 5.7% to 12%

These alarming DOJ findings align with patterns observed in other criminal cases and lawsuits, indicating that the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice (IDJJ) and its facilities have repeatedly failed to adequately investigate complaints, hold abusive staff accountable, and safeguard the well-being of the youth entrusted to their care.

Illinois Youth Center Chicago has also been listed as a detention center of serious concern for rampant sexual abuse of youth victims. In fact, Illinois Youth Center Chicago may be the most egregious case of Sexual Abuse in Cook County history. 

Illinois state capitol building - children and teens sexually abused while incarcerated at Illinois juvenile detention centers.jpg

Examples of Illinois Juvenile Detention Center Sexual Abuse Perpetrators

Prior high-profile detention center abuse cases have proven that the Illinois system has involved systemic abuse for decades. The high incidence of staff-on-inmate abuse, as supported by public filings and other evidence, demonstrates how the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice (IDJJ) and county detention centers have failed to investigate inmates' complaints, discipline abusive staff, and protect inmates, including juveniles.

Examples of some of the detention center staff who were held responsible for their actions include:

  • 2021 - Antoinette Perkins pleaded guilty to the charge of felony official misconduct after engaging in sexual misconduct with a minor detainee while she was working as a Juvenile Justice Specialist at the St. Charles Illinois Youth Detention Center.
  • 2011 - A male guard was sentenced to six years in prison for sexual assault related to the time he was working at the Joliet Illinois Youth Center in Joliet (IYC Joliet). The victim was a detainee who was a minor when the incident occurred in 2008.
  • 2007 - A civil lawsuit filed by a former youth center inmate in St. Clair County resulted in a $900,000 settlement. The lawsuit alleged sexual abuse by a detention center guard, Thomas O’Donnell Jr., while the plaintiff was detained in the St. Clair County juvenile custody center. The plaintiff also alleged St. Clair County negligently employed the guard despite a questionable history. In a related criminal case, O’Donnell pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated sexual abuse in April 2008.
  • 2006 - Barnett Gill, who had worked for the Illinois Department of Corrections for 28 years, was convicted of inappropriate sexual contact with a 16-year-old female inmate at the Warrenville Illinois Youth Center, where he was employed as a supervisor.
  • 2003 - An employee at the Illinois Youth Center – Murphysboro was charged with multiple felony counts of sexual abuse. According to the state, the defendant used his position as a kitchen supervisor to sexually abuse several of the inmates who worked with him.
  • 2002 - a former teacher at the Warrenville Illinois Youth Center pled guilty to misdemeanor criminal sexual abuse for alleged sexual contact with two teenage residents of the facility.

Disturbing History of Sexual Abuse in Illinois Youth Detention Facilities

In May, a group of 95 individuals filed a lawsuit in Illinois alleging that state employees sexually abused them as minors in juvenile detention facilities throughout the state between 1996 and 2017. 

The lawsuit detailed incidents of gang rape, coerced oral sex, physical assaults, and inappropriate touching of minors by various staff members, including corrections officers, sergeants, nurses, therapists, and a chaplain at nine youth centers across Illinois. Many of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit allege that they were either threatened or given incentives to keep quiet about the pervasive abuse.

The allegations of sexual abuse span more than two decades. Some of the state-operated juvenile facilities with the most alarming histories of sexual abuse include:

  • Illinois Youth Center Joliet (closed 2013): At this high-security facility, a guard was given a 6-year prison sentence for sexually assaulting a 17-year-old in 2008. Numerous instances of suspected abuse have been reported at Illinois Youth Center Joliet.
  • Illinois Youth Center St. Charles: In 2021, a juvenile specialist admitted to engaging in sexual misconduct with a minor resident.
  • Illinois Youth Center Warrenville (co-ed): In 2000, a teacher was found guilty of abusing two teenagers. In 2006, a supervisor was convicted of having sexual contact with a 16-year-old girl.
  • Illinois Youth Center Kewanee (closed 2016): Insufficient staffing facilitated abuse at this isolated facility housing many youth with mental health issues.
  • Illinois Youth Center Murphysboro (closed 2013): A kitchen supervisor in 2003 was arrested for sexually abusing multiple "cadets."

The Illinois lawsuit arises amidst increasing concerns about the sexual abuse of children in juvenile justice facilities both in Illinois and nationwide. 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 minors have a right to safety and appropriate care, not trauma and abuse that devastates their lives. By allowing systemic sexual abuse to occur, the state of Illinois has severely failed in this fundamental duty. Survivors are entitled to justice and accountability through civil lawsuits against the IDJJ and individual perpetrators.

How is ‘Sexual Abuse or Assault’ Defined?

From a legal perspective, sexual abuse or sexual assault is characterized as any type of sexual contact or touching that takes place without consent and is motivated by sexual intent. In cases involving minors, the lack of consent is automatically presumed, as children are not legally capable of providing consent. The element of sexual intent necessitates that the touching involves intimate body parts and is driven by the desire for sexual gratification.

Holding Youth Detention Facilities in Illinois Accountable for Sexual Abuse

Individuals who have experienced sexual abuse or assault while under the supervision of an Illinois juvenile facility or detention center have the legal right to pursue financial compensation through a civil lawsuit against the IDJJ. The department can be held liable for its negligence in failing to protect the victim sufficiently or prevent the abuse from taking place.

In most cases, the sexual abuse occurs within the confines of the facility and is carried out by staff members, clearly establishing the department’s responsibility for the abuse. However, even in situations where another detainee perpetrates the abuse or assault, the IDJJ can still be held liable for not providing adequate protection to those entrusted to its care.

Statute of Limitations for Illinois Sexual Abuse Lawsuits

Illinois has recently made significant changes to the statute of limitations for filing civil lawsuits related to sexual abuse experienced during childhood. As of January 1, 2020, survivors of childhood sexual abuse have been granted more time to pursue justice through the legal system under the amended law.

According to the current law, survivors of childhood sexual abuse have 20 years from the date they turn 18 to file a civil lawsuit against their abuser and any related institutions or entities. This means that survivors have until they reach the age of 38 to initiate a civil lawsuit against their abuser.

It is crucial to understand that this statute of limitations specifically applies to civil lawsuits, which are separate from criminal prosecutions. In Illinois, there is no statute of limitations for felony criminal sexual assault or sexual abuse crimes committed against minors. This means that a perpetrator can face criminal charges at any point, regardless of the amount of time that has passed since the abuse took place.

The modifications to the statute of limitations in Illinois demonstrate a growing recognition of the long-lasting effects of childhood sexual abuse and the significance of providing survivors with sufficient time and opportunities to seek justice and healing.

Factors Affecting Settlement Amounts in Illinois Juvenile Detention Center Sexual Abuse Lawsuits

In lawsuits involving sexual abuse in Illinois juvenile detention centers, plaintiffs frequently seek $2 million or more in damages, which sheds light on the profound and lasting harm inflicted by the abuse, the appalling extent of institutional failures, and the substantial costs associated with the survivor's recovery process and ongoing needs. 

Several key factors are taken into account when determining settlement amounts:

  • Severity and Length of Abuse: The seriousness of the sexual abuse, including its duration and the physical and emotional trauma caused, plays a significant role in determining the settlement amount.
  • Consequences for the Survivor: Both the immediate and long-term effects of the abuse on the survivor's mental well-being, daily functioning, and future prospects are considered. Assessments by psychologists and other experts provide crucial evidence of the survivor's trauma and its impact.
  • Institutional Liability: The degree of negligence or misconduct displayed by the institution can greatly influence settlement payouts. Juries are more likely to be outraged by clear failures to prevent abuse, inadequate supervision, and disregard for abuse reports, resulting in higher settlement amounts for institutions with evidence of systemic breakdowns.
  • Financial Damages: While many cases do not involve substantial financial damages, some claims may include expenses related to medical treatment, psychological counseling, lost wages, and other monetary impacts the survivor suffers.
  • Non-Economic Damages: These subjective damages, such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life, often constitute significant portions of the settlement and are awarded by the jury as compensation.
  • Punitive Damages: In cases of egregious negligence or intentional misconduct, courts may impose punitive damages to penalize the institution and deter future wrongdoing by the responsible parties. The potential for punitive damages can significantly influence settlement amounts.

In Illinois, there is no limit on damages in sexual abuse cases, which means that the amount of compensation a survivor may receive is not restricted by law. This allows juries and judges to award damages that fully reflect the gravity of the harm endured by the survivor.

The Process of Filing Lawsuits Against Illinois Detention Centers

Pursuing legal action solely against individual perpetrators often proves ineffective, as they typically lack the financial resources to provide adequate compensation to survivors. Furthermore, focusing only on individual abusers fails to address the systemic issues within Illinois youth centers allowing the abuse to occur. Institutional defendants, including state agencies, are better positioned to offer appropriate compensation and implement necessary changes to prevent future abuse, ensuring both justice for survivors and proactive measures to protect others.

At the heart of these lawsuits is the state's fundamental responsibility 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 failure to fulfill these duties has resulted in widespread physical and sexual abuse within juvenile detention facilities, exposing vulnerable children, despite their past challenges, to additional physical and psychological harm.

Alarmingly, previous reports of abuse did not prompt adequate preventive measures by the State of Illinois and its employees. This negligence exhibited by Illinois youth centers included failures in staff supervision, policy implementation, employee training, and the effectiveness of safety procedures. Moreover, these lawsuits highlight a pervasive pattern of insufficient responses to abuse allegations, perpetuating the cycle of victimization.

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

Illinois Juvenile Detention Centers 

The IDJJ is charged with establishing minimum standards for juvenile detention centers across the country. For the first time since 1998, the IDJJ in 2021 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

The department also oversees five secure facilities across Illinois. The superintendents are responsible for 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


Reach Out to Our Child Sexual Abuse Attorneys 

Child sexual abuse is a traumatic experience that often leaves lasting scars. Navigating the legal system to protect your rights and hold your abuser responsible can be a daunting task. However, you don't have to face this challenge alone. If you or a loved one was sexually abused at an Illinois juvenile detention facility, contact us immediately.

Illinois Juvenile Hall Class Action Lawsuit

Our knowledgeable and empathetic lawyers are dedicated to fighting for justice on your behalf. If you are a survivor of sexual abuse at an Illinois juvenile detention facility, allow us to negotiate a settlement or file a lawsuit on your behalf. We are committed to diligently defending your rights at every step of the process. Contact us at or through our online form for a confidential free consultation and case evaluation. Our team has extensive experience handling sexual abuse claims, and we are ready to hold negligent youth detention centers responsible for young inmates.

Our knowledgeable and empathetic lawyers are dedicated to fighting for justice on your behalf. If you are a survivor of sexual abuse at an Illinois juvenile detention facility, allow us to negotiate a settlement or file a lawsuit on your behalf. We are committed to diligently defending your rights at every step of the process. Contact us at 866-535-9515 or through our online form for a free and confidential case consultation. 

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