Report: 12 percent of youth report sexual abuse at youth corrections facility in Golden

Nearly one in eight youth in juvenile corrections facilities nationwide report having been sexually assaulted, according to a report released today by the U.S. Department of Justice. There are other shocking statistics, too: 80 percent of the abuse was committed by a staff member; 95 percent of youth say they were assaulted by a female; and non-heterosexual youth were ten times more likely to be assaulted by a fellow inmate than heterosexual youth.

The report is based on a survey of 9,198 youth at facilities in all fifty states. In Colorado, youth at six facilities were surveyed. For the most part, Colorado's rates of abuse are lower than the national average, with one exception: Lookout Mountain Youth Services Center in Golden.

At Lookout Mountain, 12 percent of youth reported being sexually assaulted. Additionally, 11 percent reported staff sexual misconduct and 4 percent reported being assaulted by another youth. That's also higher than the national average.

Lookout Mountain is a state-run commitment-only facility, which means the youth there have been convicted of a crime. There are more than 200 beds, and they're all occupied by males ages 14 to 21. Colorado has two other commitment-only facilities: Sol Vista in Pueblo and Zebulon Pike in Colorado Springs. Neither was included in the survey.

Though the rate of abuse at Lookout Mountain is nowhere near the highest in the country (36 percent of youth reported being sexually abused at the Pendleton Juvenile Correction Facility in Indiana, among the highest in the report), it's still alarming. We hope state officials take note -- and action.

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Melanie Asmar is a staff writer for Westword. She joined the paper in 2009 and has won awards for her stories about education, immigration and epic legal battles. Got a tip? She'd love to hear it.
Contact: Melanie Asmar