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Sex abuse study cites L.E. Rader Center

BY JULIE BISBEE Modified: December 1, 2010 at 4:02 pm •  Published: January 8, 2010
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Th
e survey also showed that assaults nationwide occurred most frequently with female staff members.

The youth were given an anonymous computerized survey between June 2008 and April 2009. At Rader, 51 youth participated in the survey.

Christian said the numbers are disturbing, but he questioned the survey’s methods.

"I think it probably gives a higher indication than what is true,” he said. "These allegations aren’t substantiated. We’re not protesting the numbers, but we are concerned about the sampling method.”

Christian said the agency investigates allegations and in some cases the investigation ends in criminal charges. He said staff members have been prosecuted in the past year for inappropriate contact with juveniles. He did not have an exact number. Last session, the Legislature passed a bill that allows the department to hire two criminal investigators to check out such allegations.

In 2006, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division filed a lawsuit against the state alleging that youth at Rader were not adequately protected from staff or other youth. As a result of a consent decree in the federal lawsuit, structural changes were made at some of the cottages and policies were put in place in hopes of preventing youth-on-youth assaults and staff assaults.

Federal monitors in 2008 said conditions at the facility had improved. Improvements at the facility have been ongoing. Budget cuts to the agency this year, however, have stalled construction projects there and forced officials to shut down cottages that did not meet standards, Christian said.