CHICAGO (CN) - A 16-year-old who was raped in Cook County's adult jail after he told officers he was a minor has a case for failure to train, a federal judge ruled.
Plaintiff MW was 16 when he was arraigned as an adult for armed robbery. The court made a record of his age, and a sheriff's deputy then took the minor to a holding area with his co-defendant, who was an adult.
Sheriff's officers then took MW to the adult detention center run by Cook County Department of Corrections (CCDOC) where he was strip-searched and placed in a holding cell with adult arrestees.
The plaintiff allegedly told a sheriff's officer his age during intake and said he should have been taken to the juvenile detention center, but the officer accused him of lying.
He also gave a mental health professional his date of birth as part of the intake process.
At another division of the jail, MW said he told at least five sheriff's office employees that he was a minor, but they took no action to remove him from the general population.
That evening, two adult detainees attacked the plaintiff the shower area, held him down with a chokehold and anally raped him.
Officers placed the boy in protective custody the next morning and took him to the juvenile detention center.
The plaintiff filed suit against Cook County Sheriff Thomas Dart, and U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve refused Monday to dismiss the complaint, which alleges failure to train deputies on the basic means of protecting juvenile detainees, resulting in MW's assault and rape.
"It is undisputed that the CCDOC is required to follow Illinois law and keep juvenile detainees separate from adult detainees as a matter of policy," the 15-page opinion states.
St. Eve said MW provided substantial evidence that the county's procedures for following state law - keeping juvenile and adult detainees separate - failed, and that it was highly likely that a juvenile would come to harm in Cook County's jail.
"It appears that there is a protocol for when a detainee claims to be under the age of 17 during the intake process, yet in this matter, the sheriff's officer did not notify a supervisor or double-check the necessary paperwork, but instead accused plaintiff of lying," she wrote. "In addition, although the screening sheet and information reports generated by the sheriff's deputies and officers indicate a detainee's date of birth, either there is no system in place for sheriff's officers to calculate a detainee's age or the officers are not trained to look at the date of birth information when transporting, processing, and incarcerating pre-trial detainees.
"Under the circumstances, the sheriff's officers' deliberate indifference led directly to the predictable consequence that the adult detainees physically harmed and raped plaintiff," St. Eve concluded.