Juveniles in the Adair Youth Development Center gained control of the facility Friday night after assaulting two employees and using their keys to access multiple parts of the building. Before local law enforcement was able to regain control, nine people were transported by EMS for medical care and a 17-year-old female reported that she had been sexually assaulted.
According to records obtained from Adair County 911, the first call came from an employee in the facility at 9:35 p.m. who said at least six juveniles had escaped from their cells. Within four minutes, 911 was told at least 30 youth were in the east hall. Multiple emergency personnel quickly responded to the scene. Officers on the scene first reported plans to 911 dispatch to wait for more officers before entering the facility. When they learned that the youth were opening more cell doors, the decision was made to make entry. At 10:30 p.m. officers entered the facility and regained control.
Sheriff Josh Brockman said most of the juveniles were outside of their cells when police entered the building. According to employees at the facility, there were 55 youth in the facility, and Brockman said around 45 of them were probably out of their cells. As police entered, many of them voluntarily returned to cells but others resisted police and had to be restrained, Brockman said.
At least one employee, a custodian, who was on the premises trying to repair broken sprinkler lines, was seriously injured and flown out for medical care. Another employee, a youth worker who was apparently the first to be attacked, was also seriously injured and later suffered a stroke, according to employees.
One juvenile, a 13-year-old male, apparently remained in his cell but was dragged out by the ones who took control of the keys and was severely beaten. He was taken to T.J. Health Columbia but later transferred to a children’s hospital.
A 17-year-old female was transported to the hospital, and Morgan Hall, office of communications with the Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet, Department of Juvenile Justice, has confirmed that an allegation of sexual assault is being investigated by Kentucky State Police. In an email response received at presstime, Hall states that the female who reported the assault was in a “separate, secure wing.” Sources who have first-hand knowledge of the situation have confirmed to the Community Voice, however, that the female was in a block of 10 cells with males occupying other cells.
Law enforcement reported that the juveniles had keys that gave them access to the entire facility. It is not clear if the keys would have accessed the exterior doors, but juveniles did not exit the facility during the riot. One youth started the riot by attacking a youth worker who opened a cell door to provide him with bathroom tissue, according to law enforcement officials. Cell doors are not supposed to be open during the night.
Once that staff member was attacked, the youth began unlocking cell doors and at some point the maintenance worker was attacked and his keys were taken. Police were still on the scene until 3 a.m. Saturday. The Adair County Sheriff’s Office, Columbia Police Department and Kentucky State Police were on the scene. Fish and Wildlife officers, the Cumberland County sheriff and a deputy sheriff from Russell County also went to the scene to offer assistance. Kentucky State Police Det. Zach Scott is investigating.
Hall stated in an email that the riot is “unacceptable and the department will seek criminal charges against those involved.”
In addition to the criminal investigation led by KSP, the Internal Investigations Branch of the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet has opened an investigation.
“DJJ will conduct a thorough review to determine if applicable policies were followed and identify further actions that should be taken,” she said.
Friday night’s incident follows another attack in September at the same facility when two juveniles attacked a guard and took the keys and a radio then attacked a third youth, according to a report by the Lexington Herald-Leader. An official with the Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet said they were able to get the situation under control without calling law enforcement.
A local whistleblower said there was at least one other incident around three weeks ago when a worker was attacked by a youth that had been taken to get a shower. The youth worker received multiple injuries after being under attack for several minutes before other staff members arrived to provide assistance. The Community Voice has interviewed several current and former employees and has allowed sources to remain anonymous as whistleblowers. Their stories are in a separate article and can be read by the link below.
The response by Hall received by email Wednesday can also be found below.
By Sharon Burton
WAVE 3 Louisville Coverage
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