102 Lawsuits Filed After Allegations of Abuse at New Hampshire Youth Detention Center

There are 102 lawsuits filed against Sununu Youth Services Center in Manchester, New Hampshire, after allegations of physical and sexual abuse.

Over the past two years, over 430 men and women have come forward, accusing 150 staffers over a span of 60 years at the youth detention facility. The center has been under investigation since 2019, the Associated Press reported. There have been 11 former staff members criminally charged.

Some of the allegations include staff members choking children, burning them with cigarettes, beating them until they were unconscious, and breaking their bones, attorney Rus Rilee, who represents all the plaintiffs, said, according to AP. He also said children were locked for weeks or months in solitary confinement while shackled or strapped naked to their beds sometimes.

Rilee filed the 102nd lawsuit Wednesday. Just a day before, Attorney General John Formella released a statement saying that he would dismiss two of the cases.

"Most of these suits are being filed with very limited information regarding the claims," Formella said. "The State has a need to have sufficient information regarding these claims."

"The fact that the State is filing these motions should in no way be considered as a lack of support for the victims of crime," Formella stated, pointing out that the suits can be refiled with addition information.

However, Rilee said that the state is "revictimizing them for telling their stories," not treating his clients with the dignity and respect they deserve.

"The idea that the state doesn't have enough information to defend these cases is absurd since it is the state that is prosecuting these same employees who beat, raped and tortured these survivors," he said.

Youth Detention Center, Lawsuits, Abuse Allegations
Attorney Rus Rilee, who represents all the plaintiffs, filed the 102nd lawsuit against Sununu Youth Services Center in Manchester, New Hampshire. In this photo, teens are shown being confined to a jail cell because there was not enough room for them in Juvenile Hall, in Los Angeles, California, on October 20, 1948. USC Libraries/Corbis via Getty Images

A judge dismissed a class action lawsuit in May, leaving only the lead plaintiff's claims intact and setting off a flood of nearly identical individual lawsuits against the state and former employees over the last few months.

While one division of the attorney general's office has been defending the state against the lawsuits, the criminal division launched a broad investigation into the center and its operations in 2019. Together, the 11 former staffers arrested in April are charged with nearly 100 counts of either sexually assaulting or acting as accomplices in the assault of more than a dozen teenagers from 1994 to 2007.

The Manchester facility, formerly called the Youth Development Center, serves children ordered to a secure institutional setting by the juvenile justice system. The average population last year was just 17 residents overseen by about 90 employees, though it once housed upward of 100 youths and employed a larger staff. The current state budget calls for replacing it with a much smaller facility by March 2023.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Abuse Allegations, Lawsuit, New Hampshire, Detention Center
Over the past two years, over 430 women and men have accused staff at Sununu Youth Services Center in Manchester, New Hampshire, of physical and sexual abuse over a span of 60 years. In this photo, police patrol the area around supporters of U.S. presidential campaigns as they cheer and rally outside the Democratic Debate at St. Anselm College in Manchester, on February 7, 2020. Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty Images