State settles Chehalis juvenile facility sex abuse lawsuit for $2.1M

FILE - Generic gavel on wooden table.

The state of Washington has agreed to settle a lawsuit brought by 10 people who said they were sexually abused at a juvenile rehabilitation facility when they were teenagers.

One of the plaintiffs lives in Pierce County, which is where the lawsuit was filed in Superior Court in 2018, The Olympian reported.

Some plaintiffs were at Green Hill School in the ’70s while some were there as recently as the early 2000s. The state on Sept. 1 agreed to settle their lawsuit for more than $2.1 million.

The facility in Chehalis houses teenagers from across the state who are sentenced to juvenile rehabilitation treatment.

"Through numerous sources, the State knew or should have known that a culture of sexually inappropriate behavior pervaded the Green Hill School," the lawsuit said. "The knowledge of this culture of abuse went all the way to the highest levels of management of Green Hill School and, upon information and belief, the highest levels of those State agencies charged with protecting the children sent there."

Darrell Cochran, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said this week the settlement is "a fresh start" that gives his clients resources to support things such as education, stable housing and sobriety.

The Department of Social and Health Services previously ran Green Hill and other juvenile facilities. The recently created Department of Children, Youth and Families started administering juvenile rehabilitation programs in 2019.

"These claims all stem from events that occurred between 1976 and 2008 — 15-40 years ago, and do not reflect DCYF’s current practices, policies, or procedures," department spokesperson Jason Wettstein said in a statement. "DCYF hopes these settlements are a start to the healing process for these 10 individuals."

The oldest plaintiff was 18 and the youngest was 14 when they went to Green Hill.

Cochran said law enforcement approached three of his clients about ongoing criminal investigations.

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