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DELAWARE COUNTY, Pa. - Shocking revelations about what allegedly went on behind closed doors at a juvenile detention center in Delaware County.
"We're here because of systemic abuse. The systemic abuse of children," public defender Chris Welsh said.
Delaware County's public defender, lawmakers, and three whistleblowers who worked at the county's juvenile detention center painted a horrific scene of what they say has been happening for years in the Lima facility behind closed doors.
"The systemic abuses I witnessed and repeatedly attempted to stop forced me to reconsider my entire career path and go to law school," whistleblower Nathan Orians said. " The people in charge purposely place children into a dangerous facility and they turned a blind eye or even covered up abuse that was ongoing for years."
Alleged abuse documented in a 27-page letter to the state. which included the following:
- Slamming a young teen's head into a reinforced window so hard, the window cracked.
- Violent chokeholds
- Talk of restraining a pregnant teen to induce a miscarriage, and sticking a suicidal child's head into a toilet bowl, forcing her to drink.
"This is not a movie. This is real life with real human beings. With a child who will be imprinted for the rest of their life in a system that we publicly know is corrupt, out of balance, unfair, and frankly evil," Senator Anthony Williams said.
Violent interactions happening they say to a majority of juveniles who fit a specific profile.
"They don't care about poor kids. They don't care about with all due respect a poor Black kid," Williams said.
They say three quarters of the kids are here for the first time on minor offenses, put into a residential detention center that broken and leaving permanent scars.
"This isn't happening in some faraway place to someone else's kids. This is happening here. In Delaware county. Ten minutes down the road that way," Welsh said.
"No children or youth should be subject to mistreatment or abuse at any time. The allegations raised regarding the Delaware County Juvenile Detention Center are very serious. We are committed to a comprehensive investigation and are cooperating with other authorities.DHS received a letter on the afternoon of Friday, March 5 detailing allegations against the facility," a spokesperson for DHS said in a statement to FOX 29.
The statement added: "We are actively investigating allegations raised. Regional staff from the Office of Children, Youth, and Families (OCYF) were on site immediately after receiving the letter that Friday night for initial interviews with youth and staff. All youth have been relocated at the request of the president judge of Delaware County to ensure safety as investigations proceed. OCYF will conduct a thorough investigation that will include review of all reports made to ChildLine and law enforcement and interviews with staff and former residents. At this time, no licensing action has been taken but may be pursued through the investigation."
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