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Washington Juvenile Detention Center Sexual Abuse Lawyers

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Fighting For Survivors of Sex Abuse in Washington's Juvenile Detention Facilities

Juvenile detention facilities are supposed to offer safe environments for the state’s highest-risk youth to receive rehabilitative services. Instead, many of these children were forced to endure sexual abuse at the hands of the very adults given authority over them. No one deserves to be sexually assaulted. Sexual acts against juveniles are criminal offenses. If you or your child were sexually abused at a Washington juvenile detention facility, you might be eligible for substantial compensation from the state.  

Hundreds of sexual abuse survivors have spoken up in recent years about rampant sexual abuse inside Washington’s juvenile detention centers. We understand the courage it takes to come forward, and our empathetic lawyers will fight relentlessly for justice for you.  

 We know that change and accountability happen only when courageous survivors come forward to tell their stories. So,  whether you choose to work with our firm or another, we admire and applaud your bravery. When you choose us, our entire law firm will fight for you. Our supportive and understanding child sex abuse lawyers have an outstanding trial and appellate record against large institutions.

Our Featured Child Sexual Abuse Lawyers

Partner Vanessa Firnhaber Oslund is a supportive and fearless advocate of sexual abuse survivors who understands the devastating effects of sexual abuse. She has nearly two decades  of experience battling large corporations and institutions to hold them accountable. She recently lobbied Washington lawmakers to allow juvenile sexual assault survivors to pursue civil claims regardless of how long ago the abuse occurred. 

Attorney Ruby Aliment has been standing up to large corporations, government entities, insurance companies , and other wrongdoers  since 2016. She has a proven track record advocating for and empowering sexual abuse survivors and has volunteered with the Seattle Clemency Project. Before becoming an attorney, she worked withsexual assault survivors on college campuses.

Sexual Abuse in Washington Juvenile Detention Centers

Washington’s juvenile detention centers have a decades-long history of sexual abuse, with many high-profile cases. The power dynamic in detention facilities makes teens especially vulnerable to abuse. Abusive adults can use their juvenile records to undermine their credibility and intimidate them into compliance and silence. The state has already paid millions of dollars to survivors after investigators discovered a culture of sexual abuse that permeates juvenile detention centers statewide. 

Perhaps the most alarming factor in the system-wide sexual abuse in Washington juvenile detention centers is that the perpetrators were  the very adults whose jobs were to provide protection, supervision, and guidance. 

In 2022 alone, the state recorded ten abuse allegations in juvenile detention facilities. However, the real number is likely higher as sexual abuse is largely underreported. According to RAINN, more than two out of three sexual assaults go unreported in the general population. Those sexually abused in detention centers are confined with their perpetrators and often must face them daily. The risk of retaliation is high for those who report abuse. As a result, juveniles in detention centers are even less likely to report sexual abuse.

Green Hill School

In September of 2021, the state of Washington settled a lawsuit for over $2 million with a group of 10 survivors of sexual abuse at the Green Hill School in Chehalis. According to the lawsuit, staff and guards took advantage of their power and control over the survivors, whose ages were between 14 and 18 at the time of the abuse.  

When the survivors reported the abuse to facility staff, the staff failed to perform proper investigations, and the survivors experienced retaliation. The litigants were subjected to repeated and ongoing abuse with no access to advocacy and no means to escape the abusive environment. The abuse dates as far back as the 1970s. High-level administrators and state officials knew or should have known the abuse was occurring, yet no one intervened.

Echo Glen Children’s Center

Echo Glen Children’s Center guard Robert H. Fox was sentenced to eight months in prison after pleading guilty to first-degree custodial sexual misconduct for the 2008 rape of a 19-year-old female inmate. The survivor had managed to turn her life around while residing at the facility, but the traumatic effects of the rape undermined her trust in authority figures and threatened to derail her progress. 

The state settled with the survivor for $375,000 in 2011. According to the lawsuit, Fox had a history of misconduct and was unqualified for the position. He had groomed the young girl for several months leading up to the rape, according to the Valley Record. The state was liable for its failure to protect the young girl.

Naselle Youth Camp

The state of Washington paid a total of $805,000 in settlements to four male survivors of sexual abuse perpetrated by Naselle Youth Camp counselor Michael Nolan. Governor Jay Inslee announced in 2022 that the camp would close.  

Another staff member, Steven Wirkkala, was arrested in 2021 for commercial sex abuse for allegedly sending sexually explicit photos of himself to a 12-year-old female and offering her vaping products in exchange for sexual acts. The charges were unrelated to his employment, but the arrest demonstrates the potential danger of sexual abuse posed to teens at Naselle Youth Camp.

Do I Have a Case?

The state has legal custody of juvenile detention residents, imposing a legal duty to protect them from harm. Thus, if you were sexually abused at a juvenile detention center, you may hold the state of Washington liable.  A lawyer well-versed in these types of cases must conduct an investigation and legal analysis of your particular case before anyone can tell you if you have a case.  It is important to note that a civil claim can be brought against the state even if the perpetrator is incarcerated or deceased.

The burden of proof in a civil lawsuit is lower than in criminal proceedings. You can prevail in a civil claim even if the perpetrator wasn’t criminally charged or was acquitted. You also may have grounds to file a lawsuit if the sexual contact was purportedly “consensual.” Minors under age 16 are incapable of consenting to sex by law. In addition, due to the power staff members have over residents in  any detention facilities, any sexual contact violates the residents’ civil rights and the law.

What Evidence Do I Need?

Even if you feel you have no proof and your claim is just your word against the perpetrators, you’re not alone. Many of our clients have expressed similar concerns. You will need evidence, but you don’t have to find it yourself. When you have our sex abuse attorneys on your side, you will reap the benefit of our investigators, who know how to find the evidence you need.

Evidence in a juvenile detention sexual abuse case may include the following:

If you are ready to seek justice, we are ready to investigate, find the evidence you need, and fight for the compensation you deserve. Call us today at (206) 957-9510 for a free, confidential consultation.

Recoverable Damages in Sexual Abuse Claims

You may be able to recover significant financial damages for sexual abuse in a juvenile detention center, including economic and non-economic damages.

Economic damages are compensation for your monetary losses. These types of damages may include the following and more:

Non-economic damages are compensation for the intangible effects on your life. These types of damages may include the following and more:

Everyone responds differently to such a traumatic experience as sexual abuse. Our sex abuse lawyers are dedicated to understanding the full impact of the abuse on your life so we can help you recover every penny you deserve.

How Long Do I Have to File a Sex Abuse Claim in Washington?

Under the Revised Code of Washington § 4.16.340, you can file a child sexual abuse lawsuit for up to three years after turning 18—or by your 21st birthday. However, the law recognizes that survivors cannot always be aware that the abuse caused an injury, that the injury was actually caused by the abuse, or they may have repressed the memory in response to the trauma. Importantly, only a trained attorney can analyze the facts and law in your particular case and tell you whether a third party, such as the State, may be a negligent cause of your injury.  As a result, the deadline may be extended by three years from the date you discover any of the following:

Washington's New Law to Eliminate Civil Sex Abuse Statute of Limitations

House Bill 1618

Under this new law, there is no time limit for bringing a lawsuit for any harms suffered because of childhood sexual abuse if the abuse occurred on or after June 6, 2024.

Vanessa Firnhaber Oslund – Partner, Bergman Oslund Udo Little, PLLC

Childhood sexual abuse can create pervasive feelings of shame, fear, and self-doubt. These effects can persist well into adulthood. As a result, survivors typically are not ready to go through the public process of pursuing a lawsuit within the three-year time limit. This creates an unfair and unconscionable barrier to justice. House Bill 1618 removes the statute of limitations in civil childhood sexual abuse claims for abuse that occurred on or after June 6, 2024. 

The law has passed both houses in the state legislature and the governor is expected to sign it.   

Our Washington Sex Abuse Attorneys Are Ready to Help

You can trust our attorneys to believe your story, treat you with dignity, and advocate fearlessly for you. We are not be intimidated by powerful institutions.

We are passionate about helping survivors of child sex abuse get the compensation they need to make a fresh start and hold the state accountable for failing to protect them.

Our office is in Seattle, but we can help you wherever you are in the state. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

Have more questions? Try our list of Washington sexual abuse FAQs.

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