The state is denying most of the allegations in a lawsuit that claims an 11-year-old boy being held at the Long Creek Youth Development Center was beaten and had two teeth knocked out when officers at the detention center bashed his head against a metal bed frame.

The lawsuit alleges the son of Sadiya Ali of Portland – identified in court documents as A.I. – was not treated for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and was locked up in his cell alone in July 2017. When he threatened to try to set off fire sprinklers, two guards “bashed his head in” on the metal bed frame, said Emma Eaton Bond, the lawyer representing his mother, Sadiya Ali, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine.

The result was that one of the boy’s teeth was knocked out and another was broken off, the suit alleges.

The lawsuit is unfolding as the facility comes under increasing scrutiny. In late April, another lawsuit was filed challenging the appropriateness of Long Creek to rehabilitate teenagers accused of minor crimes. In that case, the attorney for a 15-year-old from Skowhegan who was serving an 18-month sentence for a series of property crimes said the juvenile court abused its discretion and didn’t properly evaluate whether the teen posed a danger to society, noting that in many cases sending youth offenders to the South Portland facility was inappropriate and harmful.

Researchers also say that youthful offenders might be treated more effectively at smaller, community-based treatment centers.

The lawsuit filed by Ali and the ACLU says that A.I. had attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and other issues that were not addressed by the staff at Long Creek.


This week, the state denied the allegations, saying guards didn’t try to restrain A.I. and denying that they knocked out A.I.’s teeth and delayed getting him medical care.

The state Department of Corrections’ response said the incident was videotaped and the tape is in the department’s hands.

Bond said she hasn’t seen the tape, but will seek a copy in the discovery phase of the suit, which is expected to take place this summer. The case is scheduled for trial in early 2019.

Bond said she was pleased that the state admitted it had a videotape of the incident and wasn’t seeking to have the case dismissed.

A call to the lawyer representing the state in the lawsuit was not returned Thursday.

The suit alleges that A.I.’s mental health issues and ADHD were ignored by the Long Creek staff, who dealt with escalating behavioral problems as a result. Those culminated on July 26, the suit said, when A.I. became upset when he was told he would not be allowed to attend a picnic planned for that day.


After he threw his breakfast tray on the floor, A.I. was locked up in his cell by himself, the suit says. The lawsuit alleges that the reaction to the news about the picnic, as well as escalating events during the morning, were the result of his untreated ADHD, which left him unable to regulate his impulses.

After his teeth were knocked out, according to the suit, A.I. was given “indifferent” medical care at Long Creek and he wasn’t taken to see a dentist for six days. The suit says there was a narrow window during which dentists might have been able to re-insert the tooth, but that opportunity was lost because of the delay in getting treatment for A.I.

In its response, the state denies the allegations and doesn’t admit or deny that the boy’s mother wasn’t notified of the injury for days. The state’s response points out the Sadiya Ali doesn’t speak English,

Bond said the ACLU of Maine and the boy’s mother are seeking damages and a declaration that A.I.’s rights were violated.

Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or

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