A high-ranking official in the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services has resigned amid allegations that he abused children at a youth boot camp in Montana and ignored reports of excessive use of force there, reports the Washington Post. Chris Perkins, director of Maryland’s juvenile detention facilities, stepped down a day after a Montana judge unsealed an investigative report describing the abuse of at least 14 teenagers at the Swan Valley Youth Academy during Perkins’s tenure there from 2003 to 2006. The report said Perkins and other staff members used “intimidation,” “brute force” and “threats” to create an “environment of fear” and a “culture of terror” that led to the program’s closure.
At various times during Perkins’s tenure, staff members forced youths to exercise naked for hours at a time, repeatedly slammed several juveniles against a wall and placed them in isolation, in one case for days at a time. Perkins said the Montana allegations were unfounded. He said he resigned his Maryland post because the reports had caused a national media storm. Questions about Perkins were first raised in the Baltimore City Paper. Department officials have said repeatedly that they were unaware of the abuse allegations when Perkins was hired. Marlana Valdez, the independent monitor charged with reviewing conditions at Maryland juvenile centers, said she was disappointed that a more thorough check was not done before his hiring.