- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 29, 2015

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - A teen who was sexually abused by a security supervisor at an Idaho juvenile detention facility is asking a judge to let him seek punitive damages against the officials that he says likely knew of the abuse but failed to take action to stop it.

The lawsuit was filed last year on behalf of a former 15-year-old resident of the Juvenile Correction Center in Nampa. The teen was sexually abused by then-security supervisor Julie McCormick several times in 2012; McCormick was later convicted of lewd conduct with a minor.

The teen’s attorney, Bruce Skaug, wants a judge to let the youth seek additional financial damages from Idaho Department of Juvenile Correction Director Sharon Harrigfeld and former detention center superintendent Betty Grimm. Punitive damages are typically sought as a way to punish an agency or person for allegedly bad conduct, and to deter them from doing it again in the future.

Harrigfeld, Grimm and the Idaho Department of Juvenile Corrections have denied any wrongdoing in connection with the case. Their attorney, Michael Elia, declined to comment because the litigation is ongoing.

The state is facing several lawsuits alleging sex abuse and other wrongdoing at the Nampa detention center. Eleven juveniles have come forward with abuse allegations against at least three IDJC workers so far, and a group of current and former employees filed a whistleblower lawsuit in federal court contending in part that they raised concerns about potential sexual abuse but were ignored.

In his request for additional damages, Skaug echoes information first made public in the whistleblower case. In that case Grimm and Harrigfeld acknowledged in interviews with attorneys that McCormick was given repeated warnings about inappropriate behavior with the teen.

Still, she was allowed to keep working for weeks and was only fired after another employee caught McCormick and the teen alone in an office, where they had been for about two hours, according to the lawsuits.

Until that day, the department’s supervision of McCormick was essentially limited to Grimm watching her movements on security cameras, according to the court documents. The teen was sexually abused in places where there were no security cameras.

Skaug contends punitive damages are appropriate because Grimm and Harrigfeld showed “reckless or callous indifference to the constitutional rights” of the youth.

The evidence shows that neither Grimm nor Harrigfeld took effective action to protect the teen even after it was clear McCormick had an inappropriate interest in the boy, Skaug wrote in a memo to the court.

“Rather, Grimm and Harrigfeld were apparently more concerned with protecting McCormick’s job and/or not having to staff that position than protecting Doe from conduct that was clearly unauthorized, disruptive, and had a substantial risk of harm to Doe,” Skaug wrote.


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