New Hampshire

Dozens Allege Abuse at NH Youth Detention Center

“Why should any of us survivors carry the burden of their dirty secret anymore?”

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Shocking allegations of rape and cover-ups at a state-run juvenile detention center in New Hampshire are coming to light in a new class action lawsuit filed Saturday.

For the first time since reporting the alleged abuse to police two years ago, the lead plaintiff in the class action suit is now speaking out.

David Meehan says the abuse was more like torture, and according to the lawsuit, it was happening every single day.

"I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy," Meehan said Monday.

Back in the late 90s, Meehan says he was physically, emotionally and sexually abused while in state custody at the Youth Development Center in Manchester. It has since become the Sununu Youth Services Center.

Thirty-five other people are joining Meehan in a class action lawsuit alleging similar abuse dating back to 1982.

"They would crucify people if they found out they were treating animals that way," he said. "We're human beings, little kids."

According to the lawsuit, Meehan was brutally beaten by counselors, and he was forced to relieve himself in his cell and clean it up with the clothes on his back. It also describes in horrific detail the day a counselor allegedly raped him at gunpoint.

"Some of the most awfully disgusting things that you could ever think of," Meehan said.

The lawsuit also claims that YDC administrators were aware of the abuse, but tried to cover it up.

It says, in part, "Even when these children, sporting black eyes, swollen faces, and bleeding genitals, sought help from YDC staff, they were informed that they were mistaken and that the abuse had not occurred."

After years of drug abuse to mask his pain, Meehan broke his silence in 2017, reporting the allegations to police and prompting a criminal investigation currently underway by the attorney general's office.

"We don't have to carry this dirty secret for them anymore," Meehan said.

He's now clean, married with three kids, and proud to be leading this fight for justice.

"If we don't do this, the system is not going to change, and we're setting up other kids, other families to be destroyed and to have their lives destroyed," he said.

NBC10 Boston reached out to the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, which runs the Sununu Youth Services Center, for comment, but we haven't yet heard back.

Meehan and his attorney Rus Rilee are encouraging other possible victims to come forward by reaching out to New Hampshire State Police.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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