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Twenty-six women filed a lawsuit against the state of Maryland and some of its agencies on Tuesday, alleging they were sexually assaulted when they were children at Good Shepherd Services.

All 26 plaintiffs are going by their initials only. The complaint alleges that the victims were between 12 and 18 years old during the abuse and were in the custody of the State and its agencies.

The facility which operated until 2017, was a state-run juvenile detention and residential treatment center that housed children with behavioral issues, as well as foster care youth.

The Departments of Health, Human Services, and Juvenile Services have also been listed as defendants. Additionally, a second lawsuit with similar complaints was filed by a separate law firm on behalf of 13 additional plaintiffs.

“The sexual assault of vulnerable teenagers by state employees is horrific, but the fact clergy were also complicit is one of the many truly sickening aspects of what transpired at Good Shepherd Services,” the law firm wrote in a press release. Children reported being raped and even drugged by staff members at the place where they were forced to live. Because of their negligence, the State failed to protect and provide the most basic right to the children of Maryland – safety.”

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This legal avenue is now available to these Marylanders due to the Maryland Child Victims Act signed into law last April. The law allows survivors to file retroactive lawsuits, even if their claims already expired under an existing statute of limitations.

All three departments named in the lawsuit released a statement: “The State has not been served with the lawsuit yet. However, the Departments of Health, Human Services and Juvenile Services work to ensure the safety and well-being of all children and youth placed in state care. We take allegations of sexual abuse of children in our care seriously.”

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