A New Jersey youth detention center had ‘culture of abuse,’ new lawsuit says

A New Jersey youth detention center let a “culture of abuse,” in which staff sexually abused boys, endure for decades, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday in state Superior Court by 50 men who lived at the facility.

The lawsuit alleges virtually unchecked sexual abuse of the boys housed at the New Jersey Training School in Monroe Township.

“For decades, children detained in New Jersey juvenile detention facilities have suffered sexual abuse at the hands of guards, counselors, and other agents of the State, all while Defendant has had knowledge of, and turned a blind eye to, this culture of abuse,” the lawsuit says.

The allegations outlined in the suit stretch from the 1970s to the 2010s and include dozens of harrowing details, including that guards, counselors and other staff sexually abused the boys at the facility and in woods around it and threatened them with further confinement if they divulged the abuse.

One of the plaintiffs — not identified by name because of the nature of the allegations — said he informed the parole board about the abuse he suffered but “was not taken seriously.” Others notified other staff members, only to have nothing done about the allegations, the suit says.

The facility, which is not solely a school but a campus that includes cottages and a vocational building run by the state’s Juvenile Justice Commission, currently houses about 200 people, according to the state. It dates to 1867, is the state’s largest such facility, and sits less than 50 miles (80 kilometers) southwest of New York. Most of the residents are 16-18 years old, though it houses people committed by courts from ages 12-23, according to the state.

  • January 17, 2024
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