Attorney Files Lawsuit Against Tulsa County Juvenile Justice Center

The lawsuit accuses the Center's workers of things like rape, sexual harassment, and abuse against the teenagers in custody there.

Tuesday, May 28th 2024, 9:56 pm



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A Tulsa attorney has filed a lawsuit against the Tulsa County Juvenile Justice Center.

The lawsuit accuses the Center's workers of things like rape, sexual harassment, and abuse against the teenagers in custody there.

Don Smolen represents nine teenagers he says were treated like animals and used for others' sexual needs.

He says he shouldn't have to file a federal lawsuit to get people's attention.

The Tulsa County Family Center for Juvenile Justice is run by several organizations, including the Tulsa County Commissioners and The Office of Juvenile Affairs.

Plus, the Tulsa County judge in charge of the Juvenile Division appoints a director to run the day-to-day operations.

That was Anthony Taylor, who was hired in 2021 and fired earlier this month.

"They don't just get to point the finger at each other; it's a collaborative effort, and none of them did anything to protect these kids," Don Smolen of Smolen Law said.

The Office of Juvenile Affairs did put the Juvenile Center on probation in May 2023 for violations like workers being intoxicated, residents being denied showers and being put on lockdown for days, residents not going to school regularly, and medication not given or monitored properly.

The lawsuit says that during the time from June 2023 to March 2024, a nurse had sex with a teenager in exchange for vape pens but, instead of being fired, was moved to a different jail.

"I think it's very telling that one of these individuals, one of these perpetrators, when caught instead of being terminated, was transferred to David L. Moss so they could rape adults instead of kids," said Smolen.

The suit includes former worker Jonathan Hines, who is now charged with having sex with a 17-year-old resident in exchange for money.

"It's obvious no one's done their due diligence on the background of these people. I mean, this isn't something someone starts working at the juvenile center and all the sudden starts working as a sexual predator," said Smolen. 

The lawsuit says former director Anthony Taylor and several others knew of these issues.

"I think the attorney general's office needs to come in, or the U.S. Attorney's Office needs to come in and do a criminal investigation, shut the place down for now," Smolen said.

News on 6 asked Oklahoma Juvenile Affairs for a statement and did not hear back.

News on 6 left a message for former director Anthony Taylor and didn't hear back and we asked the judge over the juvenile division for a comment but was told he would not.

The County Commissioners say they oversaw the construction of the building but have no say over who runs it or the operations of the center.

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