COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Two South Carolina lawsuits allege that four teenage girls were sexually assaulted and another beaten at a state juvenile facility last December.
The alleged incidents occurred during a Dec. 15 riot at the South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice evaluation center in Columbia, The State newspaper reported Thursday. The lawsuits were filed in state court July 30.
The first lawsuit alleged that male youths confined at the center broke out of their unit during a group fight among the female teens and sexually assaulted them. A second lawsuit alleged a fifth teen eventually lost consciousness while being attacked by other youths, and the only guard at the scene “inexplicably passed out” during the riot.
The suits say not enough staff members were on site, the youths overpowered the staff, and the state had a duty to keep the youths safe.
A department spokesperson declined to comment to the newspaper Wednesday, citing pending legal actions.
The suits come amid an ongoing enforcement action against the agency by the Department of Justice’s civil rights division. The Department of Justice told the state in February that there was reasonable cause that state juvenile justice officials and practices violated constitutional rights of incarcerated youth.