Closing Arguments Presented In Juvenile Detention Center Case

( – A New Hampshire court has heard the closing arguments in a case about historic abuse at its youth detention center. David Meehan says he was regularly beaten and raped at the center in the 1990s—and, after he sued the state, hundreds of other former inmates claimed they’d been abused, too. Meehan has now been awarded massive damages, but the state, which denies his allegations of systematic abuse, could end up paying a small fraction of that.

In 2017, Meehan, who spent time at New Hampshire’s Youth Development Center in the 1990s after serious behavior issues, went to the police and alleged that while he was at the center, he’d suffered near-daily beatings and rape as well as long periods in solitary confinement. Three years later, he filed a lawsuit against the state, claiming its negligence had enabled the abuse. His lawyer asked for over $200 million in damages. Since he filed the suit, 11 former staff members at the center have been arrested.

However, the state challenged Meehan’s claims and produced several witnesses who said there had been no signs of abuse at the center. Another, a psychologist, said experts testifying for Meehan’s legal team had assumed he was telling the truth. Based on his own evaluation of Meehan before he went to the center, he said he had “significant mental health issues.” The state’s key witness was Meehan’s father, Daniel, who confirmed his son had “a reputation for untruthfulness.”

The jury decided it believed Meehan’s claims, though, and awarded him $38 million in damages. Despite that, there’s a strong chance Meehan will never see most of the money.

When the jury delivered its verdict, it wrote that there was one incident: PTSD Meehan says he suffered from his time at the center. However, a New Hampshire law caps claims against the state to $475,000 per incident. Jurors didn’t know that, and classified the alleged abuse as one incident caused by over a hundred separate assaults. One juror said they were “devastated” at the “mistake” they’d made. Now, lawyers are gearing up to challenge the state again.

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