Adrien Dufresne, a juvenile program worker at Long Creek Youth Development Center who had just been attacked by three teenage inmates, was dazed and bleeding but still conscious as he was dragged across the floor and locked in the youngest inmate’s room.
His accused attackers, an 18-year-old man and two juvenile boys, sprang on Dufresne shortly after midnight on Feb. 14 at the South Portland facility. They were able to get out of their rooms by leaving the doors partially open or using playing cards to keep them from locking, according to an internal investigator’s report obtained Monday by the Portland Press Herald.
The three briefly managed to escape to a fenced-in area and were taken back into custody before they could reach the facility’s perimeter fence.
According to the report by Maine Department of Corrections investigator Joseph Fagone, Dufresne approached the door of a 16-year-old boy’s room to see why it was unsecured. As he did, “it flew open, knocking him back, and (the juvenile) came out and attacked him.”
Two other inmates, later identified as 18-year-old Justin Barry and a 17-year-old juvenile, then came out of their own unlocked rooms and overwhelmed Dufresne. They kicked and punched him as he lay on the floor cradling his head, and left him locked in a room with blood from his nose spilling on the floor, Fagone said in the report.
The trio then used Dufresne’s portable radio to brag about what they had done, pulled a fire alarm and made a brief escape into the pouring rain. They tried unsuccessfully to use tied-together bedsheets to climb the fenced-in recreation yard, the report states.
“Ya, we (expletive) up one of your officers real good,” other Long Creek staff workers heard over the radio, the report said.
Police, who were called in initially to assist the fire department, helped secure the facility to make sure no one escaped from the perimeter fence. The teenagers remained free inside the facility walls for about 80 minutes before the Department of Corrections’ SWAT-style Special Operations Group arrived to apprehend them near the unit from which they initially escaped.
Dufresne suffered bruises and abrasions all over his face and an elbow, a concussion and rib and abdominal injuries in the attack. He was taken to Maine Medical Center in Portland by ambulance for treatment. A hospital spokeswoman said Monday that she could not say when Dufresne was released, only that he was not currently a patient there.
Barry, who legally became an adult four days before the alleged attack, had been held at Long Creek for offenses he committed as a juvenile, and could have remained there until he was 21. He is now being held at the Cumberland County Jail. It is unclear where the two juveniles are now being held. The Press Herald is not naming the juveniles because of their age.
Few youths who enter the juvenile court system are committed to detention facilities like Long Creek, only those who are most likely to re-offend. It is unclear how common such violent attacks are at the facility.
Long Creek Superintendent Jeff Merrill II has not returned several phone messages left for him over a period of two weeks.
Jim Mackie, an official with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees who represents state prison guards at adult and juvenile facilities, said the attack was particularly disturbing because of the level of planning that went into it.
“This was absolutely premeditated. These three individuals had this orchestrated,” Mackie said.
He said staffing levels at Long Creek may have been a contributing factor, although he said Merrill should be credited with running the facility as best he can with the resources provided by Corrections Commissioner Joseph Ponte.
“Staffing levels have been reduced everywhere, not just at Long Creek,” Mackie said.
The Department of Corrections had denied requests for details of the attack beyond its initial news release Feb. 14, which said all the boys were juveniles. That turned out to be incorrect in Barry’s case.
Scott Fish, a spokesman for the Department of Corrections, was asked in a phone call for information about the attack, whether there has been an increase in assaults at Long Creek, and whether staffing levels at the youth facility have been cut. “The answer to your questions: No comment,” Fish responded in an email last week.
The Press Herald has filed a request for information under the state’s Freedom of Access Act, seeking all reports generated as a result of the attack, information on the number of assaults by juvenile residents on Long Creek staff members, and Department of Corrections communications regarding staffing levels at Long Creek.
Long Creek residents have assaulted staff members there 188 times since 2007, Fish said in an email Monday. He did not provide requested details of when the attacks took place or a description of the nature of the assaults.
Fish claimed all other requested information was confidential under state statute.
The Department of Corrections did not identify any of the teenagers on Feb. 14. The Cumberland County District Attorney’s Office released Barry’s name this week because he is an adult.
Barry appeared in adult court at Cumberland County Unified Criminal Court on Feb. 19 for his initial appearance on four charges: two felony counts of assault on an officer and escape, and two misdemeanor counts of criminal mischief and false public report (for allegedly pulling the fire alarm), according to court records.
District Court Judge E. Paul Eggert ordered Barry held on $1,000 cash bail. Fagone’s investigative report was included in Barry’s case file.
It was not immediately clear Monday what charges the juveniles face.
The court, by policy of the clerk’s office, does not allow the public to know when any prisoner is brought to the court for an initial appearance on new charges. The court has rejected past requests by the Press Herald to publicly post those in-custody docket sheets.
Scott Dolan can be contacted at 791-6304 or at: