New Jersey’s governor recommitted on Thursday to closing down the state’s largest youth detention center, and the state attorney general vowed a prompt investigation after 50 men alleged they were sexually abused there while they were held as boys.
Attorney General Matt Platkin said hours after the lawsuit was filed Wednesday that the allegations would be “swiftly and thoroughly” investigated. The suit contends that from the 1970s to the 2010s that officers, counselors and other staff sexually assaulted boys under their authority at the New Jersey Training School in Monroe Township.
In a statement Thursday, Gov. Phil Murphy’s spokesperson Tyler Jones, said the Democratic governor is “committed to the responsible closing” of the school, first announced nearly six years ago. The challenge is that the closure would require creating three additional facilities, one each in northern, central and southern New Jersey, and so far only two have been set up, the statement said.
Among the lawsuit’s allegations are that staff conducted illicit strip searches, carried out violent rapes, offered bribes to keep the victims silent and threatened punishment if the crimes were reported. Fifty men who were held at the facility as boys have joined the lawsuit.
“Protecting the youth in the care of the Juvenile Justice Commission (JJC) is a matter of the highest priority for our administration. We have zero tolerance for abuse of any kind in JJC facilities or in JJC-sponsored programs,” Platkin said. His statement also said he wouldn’t comment on the lawsuit, but noted that the alleged conduct happened before Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration.