Two class action lawsuits have been filed against two Pennsylvania judges and others who are alleged to have participated in a scheme to place juveniles at two detention centers in exchange for payoffs, reports the Wilkes Barre Times Leader. Judges Mark Ciavarella Jr. and Michael T. Conahan pleaded guilty Thursday to charges they accepted more than $2.6 million in kickbacks in exchange for rulings that benefited the owners and builder of the two centers.
One suit was filed on behalf of a girl, 15, who was incarcerated in a wilderness detention camp in 2007 after appearing before Ciavarella without an attorney on charges of making terroristic threats on myspace.com. The complaints seek damages as potentially hundreds of other juveniles who are alleged to have been improperly detained in order to permit the judges and others to enrich themselves. “At the hands of two grossly corrupt judges and several conspirators, hundreds of Pennsylvania children, their families and loved ones, were victimized and their civil rights violated,” said a plaintiffs’ attorney. “It's our intent to make sure that the system rights this terrible injustice and holds those responsible accountable.”