First Of More Than 1,000 Cases Against A New Hampshire Juvenile Correctional Center Begins

( — The first of nearly 1,200 lawsuits against New Hampshire’s youth detention center began this week in a Rockingham County court, the Associated Press reported.

The case was brought by David Meehan, formally the lead plaintiff in a class action lawsuit against the Sununu Youth Services Center. After the judge threw out the class action, plaintiffs filed separate lawsuits against the state, alleging molestation and abuse by workers at the center.

Meehan revealed to his wife in 2017 that he had been abused while in the center. His revelation led to a criminal investigation in which 10 former workers have been criminally charged.

Jury selection in Meehan’s case wrapped up on Tuesday in Rockingham County Superior Court.

Meehan was sent to the Manchester, New Hampshire youth center in 1995, when he was 14 years old. For three years, Meehan said he was routinely raped and beaten, and spent months in solitary confinement.

His lawsuit alleges that one worker first gained his trust by offering him snacks and making arrangements for Meehan to play basketball with local high school students. The worker then subjected Meehan to almost daily abuse.

Meehan also alleges that other workers participated in the abuse, either by standing guard or holding him down. When he informed a supervisor about how he sustained some injuries to his face, the supervisor told him, “That just doesn’t happen.”

Meehan is seeking $1.9 million in compensation for lost income as well as compensation for loss of quality of life, pain and suffering, and permanent impairment.

The lawsuit accuses the state of New Hampshire of breaching its duty of care to Meehan. It claims that the state enabled Meehan’s abuse by being negligent in hiring, training, and supervising detention center employees.

Ten former youth center workers have been charged in the criminal investigation. The men are accused of assaulting or acting as accomplices to the assault of over a dozen teens from 1994 until 2007.

The first criminal trial is set to begin in August.

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