Suit alleges abuse at South Dakota tribal detention center

By Wayne Ortman
Sioux Falls, South Dakota (AP) September 2010

A boy’s guardian has filed a $10 million lawsuit against the federal government alleging the child was branded with a hot nail and sexually assaulted by another boy while being held at a tribal detention center.

Staff negligence and failure to follow procedures resulted in pain, suffering and civil rights violations, the civil lawsuit filed during late August alleges. The government had not filed its answer to the complaint and a spokesman with the U.S. Attorney’s office said it had no immediate comment.

The boy was 12 when placed in the facility on the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation in September 2008, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit says two older boys used a nail and lighter to brand the letter “C” on the boy’s arm against his will and that he did not receive medical attention for approximately a week. One of the older boys later sexually assaulted the child, the lawsuit says.

The complaint says the boy was denied counseling services until his release.

“As a result of the incidents, (the boy) endured pain and suffering, medical and mental health expenses, anxiety, trauma, depression, emotional distress and violations of his civil rights against cruel and unusual punishment,” according to the lawsuit.

The complaint says the boy is expected to suffer ongoing emotional problems and likely will incur medical and mental health expenses. It asks for a jury trial under the Federal Tort Claims Act because administrative remedies have been exhausted.