NewsLocal NewsInvestigations

Wayne County suspends 7 after sexual assault claim at juvenile facility

Troubled facility plagued by understaffing, overcrowding since last year
Posted at 2:44 PM, Mar 16, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-16 18:07:31-04

HAMTRAMCK (WXYZ) — Wayne County has suspended seven employees from its juvenile jail following an alleged physical and sexual assault against a 12-year-old boy.

The troubles follow a string of escapes and attacks involving juveniles at the facility that 7 Action News has reported on since last August.

In response to unraveling conditions, Wayne County shuttered the longtime detention facility downtown in October, electing to move the young residents to the vacant Dickerson adult jail in Hamtramck.

But the change in scenery has not lessened the problems plaguing the county.

Multiple county sources confirm that a 12-year-old resident was allegedly physically attacked Tuesday night, also claiming that he was the victim of a sexual assault.

“Upon learning of an alleged physical and sexual assault,” said spokeswoman Tiffani Jackson, “we contacted Michigan State Police who are actively investigating these allegations.”

An employee of the detention facility who was working that night said the assault was made possible by children escaping from their cells.

“The kids popped their locks,” said the employee. “All the kids over there had free range. They were all in another resident’s cell.”

7 Action News is not naming the employee because the county does not grant permission for staff to speak about conditions inside the former jail.

“One of the staff that was up there reported that he saw the kid coming out of the room, pulling his pants up yelling, ‘They raped me! They raped me!’” the staffer said. “And three of the boys that supposedly raped him jumped on him and beat him up.”

The investigation into the abuses, being led by Michigan State Police, involved the 12-year-old boy submitting to a rape kit. In response to the allegations, Wayne County says that seven staffers working when the alleged abuse took place have been suspended.

For months, employees have complained there are too many juveniles at the facility but not nearly enough of them.

Last August, two county employees faced termination following a scathing internal investigation into how 18 juveniles were able to escape from their cells inside the county’s detention facility.

Staff say they can safely house about 80 kids, but today the county is housing 138. Nearly half have had their cases adjudicated, but are stuck in the juvenile jail because there’s nowhere to send them.

In a letter sent to Governor Whitmer in January, Wayne County Executive Warren Evans blamed the state for the overcrowding problem.

“The severe shortage of state-licensed placement beds for adjudicated delinquent youth and the state’s own failure to take adequate steps to address this problem has now directly impacted” the county, Evans wrote.

Contact 7 Investigator Ross Jones at or at (248) 827-9466.