A Maine man has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the Department of Corrections and more than a dozen individuals alleging abuse and “deliberate denial” of treatment while he was confined in the state’s youth detention center.

In the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court this week, the plaintiff claims he was subjected to excessive isolation, restraint and force as well as sexual assault over a span of six years while intermittently held at the Maine Youth Center in South Portland. He also alleges he was deliberately denied “adequate rehabilitative treatment” for his severe attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and denied “his right to an appropriate education.”

The Portland Press Herald does not identify the victims of alleged sex crimes without their consent.

The Maine Youth Center is now known as the Long Creek Youth Development Center and is the state’s only youth detention facility.

The filing by attorneys Thomas Hallett and Jordan Ramharter of the Portland firm Hallett Whipple Weyrens requests the court award their client $1 million in compensatory damages along with any other damages resulting from a requested jury trial.

The lawsuit is just the latest concerning Long Creek Youth Development Center and comes at a time when there are growing demands to phase out or shut down the 163-bed facility.


The complaint claims that the man was repeatedly placed into prolonged isolation in then-Maine Youth Center’s intensive care unit for “acting out” and other “misbehaviors” that the lawsuit attributes to his attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. The lawsuit claims the ICU units were “filthy” cells where children received no educational mental health services while in isolation and that the facility also used a “restraint chair” and wrist and/or ankle zip ties to punish disorderly children.

The filing also alleges that the man was slapped, ridiculed, tackled, thrown to the ground and suffered other physical or verbal abuse at the hands of staff members. The lawsuit also alleges he was repeatedly strip-searched and, on at least one occasion, sexually assaulted by a female guard.

The attorneys allege the abuse the man received has had lifelong, debilitating consequences – including “multiple severe emotional and mental disabilities” – that have prohibited him from leading a normal life.

“While at MYC, (the plaintiff) was denied treatment for his ADHD and denied adequate mental health treatment,” reads the complaint. “His previously disabling mental health condition was exacerbated, and he also developed PTSD because of the intolerable conditions and treatment. He received no mental health treatment following his suicide attempts despite the obvious need for treatment.”

In addition to the Maine Department of Corrections, the lawsuit names as defendants 18 individuals. They include former department commissioners, associate commissioners, superintendents, counselors, psychologists and supervisors at the then-Maine Youth Center.

Representatives for the Department of Corrections and the Attorney General’s Office, which represents state agencies in lawsuits, could not be reached for comment Friday night. The plaintiff’s attorneys also could not be reached for comment.


The complaint cites the Federal Civil Rights Law, the Federal Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention law, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act as well as the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments.

There has been a push for years to close what is now Long Creek Youth Development Center, and state lawmakers will consider at least one bill this year to shutter the facility.

Critics as well as youth activists and advocates for juvenile justice reform describe the facility as putting “kids in cages.” Instead, they argue the state should use the more than $18 million spent on Long Creek annually to create community-based programs to support young people and provide mental health support.

There are also long-standing concerns about the facility’s ability to handle youth with complex mental health issues, as well as high staff turnover. A report from a national policy group hired to study Maine’s juvenile justice system also raised alarms about the fact that Long Creek is often used to detain youth who do not present a threat to themselves or others.

There have been multiple lawsuits against the facility and the department.

In 2019, the state paid $500,000 to a man to drop a lawsuit alleging he was subjected to long, unwarranted periods in isolation and restraints, although the state admitted no fault in the case. A 2018 federal lawsuit claimed guards physically mistreated and injured a then-11-year-old boy.

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