Teens held in insect-infested cells, tortured with ‘Baby Shark’ among explosive claims in Kentucky lawsuit


Two teenagers who say they were held in isolation at a youth detention center in Kentucky, deprived of basic hygiene and tortured by being forced to listen to a version of the song “Baby Shark” on repeat have filed a class-action lawsuit against the facility and its administrators.

The lawsuit filed Monday details incidents of alleged abuse at the Adair County Juvenile Detention Center against the two teenage girls and others detained at the facility, including allegations that inmates were:

  • He was held in isolation and deprived of education.

  • Deprivation of basic hygiene and bathing.

  • Refusal of prescribed medications.

  • Forcing girls to expose their naked bodies in front of members of the opposite sex.

  • He was forced to listen to the Spanish version of the toddler’s song “Baby Shark” played over and over on an audio loop.

Two young women say in a lawsuit that they and other girls were abused, neglected, humiliated and denied health care at the Adair Regional Juvenile Detention Center.

The lawsuit also details alleged incidents with other young men at the center, including a teenager who spent days drenched in menstrual blood, while at the same time, staff insulted her about her hygiene.

Other allegations include a suicidal child being held in a padded cell without a toilet for weeks. A girl was kept in a room infested with insects, and the girls were not given feminine hygiene products.

The teenage girls in the lawsuit were isolated with limited bathrooms during their entire stay at the Adair facility. A 17-year-old girl who was seven months pregnant said she was allowed out of her cell five times a month. The other girl remained in isolation for four months, the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit names state officials Kerry Harvey and Vicki Reed, among others. Harvey, who is currently serving as Cabinet Secretary for Justice, is scheduled to retire at the end of the month. Reed, the former director of the Department of Juvenile Justice, retired Jan. 1.

David Casey, Director of the Bureau of Detention Division of the Department of Juvenile Justice, and George Scott, The executive director of the Department of Juvenile Justice was also named in the lawsuit. According to personnel records he obtained Wave NewsKazi and Scott were demoted in November 2023.

The two teens who filed the lawsuit are now adults and no longer in the custody of the Department of Juvenile Justice, their attorney, Laura Landenwich, said. He told the Herald-Leader.

The lawsuit states that the alleged male officers regularly searched the girls’ cells and detained them without clothes — and that the male officers forcibly undressed inmates in front of other staff and other detainees.

“Talking to these girls is so tragic, it’s just the whole experience. It’s unacceptable to treat people the way they were treated,” Landenwich told the Herald-Leader.

Past cases at the Adair County Juvenile Detention Center

ACLU of Kentucky File a complaint last year with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, seeking an investigation into poor living conditions at the detention center.

A report last year from the state Department of Public Advocacy also said the facility was violating the rights of youth by subjecting them to non-behavioral seclusion, which involves confining them alone in their cells for long periods without committing any violations, the Herald-Leader reported. .

History of the Adair County Juvenile Detention Center

The detention center made headlines in November 2022 when inmates participated in a “violent riot,” According to the Louisville Courier-Journal, part of the USA TODAY Network. The unrest began when a juvenile inmate attacked a staff member and sent detention workers to the hospital with serious injuries.

In the wake of that and other violent incidents in juvenile facilities, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear’s administration implemented… New policies. These policies require male juveniles facing serious charges to be placed in separate facilities and the establishment of a women-only detention center in Northern Kentucky.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Teenage inmates in Kentucky allege torture and abuse in a federal lawsuit

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