Identified only by their initials, 11 women, one man, and one person who identified as nonbinary filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the state of Maryland and three of its agencies, claiming they were sexually abused as children while residents at the Good Shepherd Services treatment center before the facility was closed in 2017.

The lawsuit, filed in Baltimore Circuit Court against the Department of Juvenile Services, the Department of Human Services, and the Department of Health, is one of several legal claims filed since October after the Maryland Child Victims Act of 2023 went into effect. The act eliminated the statute of limitations for victims of child sexual abuse and set off a wave of new litigation. To date, at least 200 plaintiffs have made claims against the institutions they say enabled harm against them.

The lawsuit Tuesday was the first that named a private institution, in this case one run by a religious organization, rather than facilities operated by the state.

The suit alleges that the state, nonetheless, had the ultimate responsibility of oversight over the care of the children it sent to Good Shepherd, which the filing referred to as “a site of unimaginable trauma for Maryland’s most vulnerable children.” The center operated in Halethorpe from 1970 to 2017. The 13 plaintiffs range in age from 25 to 49.

“Our courageous clients were all children in need of help when they were sent to Good Shepherd,” said attorney Jerome Block, whose New York firm Levy Konigsberg filed the lawsuit jointly with the Bethesda firm Brown Kiely. “Instead, they suffered horrific sexual abuse at the hands of staff members. The state of Maryland sent the most vulnerable children in its care to this facility and then failed to protect them.”

Hugo Kugiya is a reporter for the Express Desk and has formerly reported for the Associated Press, Newsday, and the Seattle Times.

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