Juvenile Justice Agency Is Besieged With 200 Abuse Lawsuits

(NationalUSNews.com) — Maryland lawmakers recently removed the statute of limitations for child abuse lawsuits last year, causing an influx of new lawsuits against the Maryland Juvenile Justice Agency. So far, 200 people have filed suits against the juvenile justice agency, citing abuse they allegedly suffered while in the state agency’s custody. The latest lawsuit included claims for 63 people and alleged intense child abuse at 15 different state-operated facilities. Some of the listed facilities are now defunct, but others remain operational.

The elimination of the statute of limitations came as Maryland lawmakers considered the Catholic Church and the ongoing sexual abuse scandal involving members of the clergy. According to extensive investigative reports, the Catholic Church purposely hid allegations against clergy members and conspired to prevent victims from coming forward about church members who abused them. Maryland lawmakers wanted to avoid similar scandals and provide safety to child victims, regardless of their age or how long ago the abuse occurred.

Rather than revealing more abuse from church members, the elimination of the statute of limitations for child abuse revealed extensive abuse by employees of Maryland’s state-owned juvenile facilities. The policy change resulted from the Child Victims Act, which could be deemed unconstitutional if interested parties attempted to fight the lawsuits in court. Should the Child Victims Act’s constitutionality be challenged, the numerous lawsuits against the state-run juvenile agency could encounter substantial delays.

The lawsuits come as Maryland lawmakers attempt to increase oversight of the juvenile justice agency by repealing new reforms passed in 2022. Some Maryland advocates claim the new oversight reform could result in more Maryland juvenile detention in state facilities. Despite the criticism, Maryland lawmakers believe the juvenile justice agency requires more oversight, given the allegations against the agency.

The lawsuits against the Maryland Juvenile Justice Agency feature allegations that span decades, with the earliest claims dating back to 1969. According to the legal action’s plaintiffs, state employees abused children from 1969 to 2017, with little to no legal repercussions. Lawmakers haven’t addressed the new lawsuit against the state-operated agency, but the legal action is a direct result of the Child Victims Act and its removal of the state’s statute of limitations for child abuse lawsuits.

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