Teens' lawyers take first step toward lawsuit over boot camps


Two Glen Burnie attorneys have taken their first legal step in an expected lawsuit against state officials on behalf of three teens they say were assaulted at state-run boot camps in Western Maryland.

The notice of claim is the first step toward a lawsuit under the Maryland Tort Claims Act and the first civil action on behalf of the teens since the publication of reports of widespread abuse at three camps in Garrett County.

The claim alleges cruel and unusual punishment, torture, hazing, intentional infliction of emotional distress and physical beatings from guards at the facilities, which are designed to straighten out young delinquents by subjecting them to military-style discipline.

"Clearly, their civil rights have been violated, and it went beyond discipline and punishment in the juvenile justice arena and moved to abuse, which is unlawful," said rney Evelyn O. A. Darden.

Darden and her partner, Mark A. Darden III, said they are continuing to look for teens who were at Savage Leadership Challenge, Backbone Leadership Challenge and Meadow Mountain Leadership Challenge to determine whether others have valid claims. The attorneys said they are considering a class action lawsuit.

Gov. Parris N. Glendening ordered the camps closed in December after The Sun reported that guards had routinely assaulted teens in their care. Two judges, Maryland State Police investigators and a task force appointed by the governor concluded that the assaults were widespread and dated to 1996, when the first camps opened. State police and the FBI are continuing to investigate.

A spokesman for the Department of Juvenile Justice, said officials had no comment on the claim. A spokeswoman for Glendening, said the governor's office could not comment because of the pending litigation.

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