CLEVELAND (WJW) – Video released to the FOX 8 I-Team shows teens wearing hazmat suits inside the Cuyahoga County Detention Center.
As the I-Team investigated why, we found an internal investigation underway and a local civil rights attorney demanding answers.
All of this is coming to light after the I-Team filed records requests to dig up the security video exposing what really happened. We also have reports from workers and some of the teens locked up.
The I-Team found one of the teens involved is now at home.
“I go and I look, and it was nasty, real nasty,” she said.
She told us she came back from a meeting and saw the other girls there in tears.
Several of the teens filed complaints. They say they were moved to a different part of the lock-up that had been used by boys. The girls say they then had to clean up an area disgusting and dangerous with trash, food, bodily fluids and more.
“I was like, ‘why you all crying?’ and they all had white suits on,” she said.
The teen we spoke to said, “The showers, the rooms, everything was just nasty. We got to put the suits on to clean it up. We told the staff we didn’t want to do it, but they made us do it.’
“I certainly hope somebody’s held accountable,” Attorney Paul Cristallo said. “The Constitution prohibits cruel and unusual punishment. I would argue that having the women clean up bio-hazard materials under any condition is simply not what this country tolerates.”
The incident happened April 15. The I-Team started looking into the allegations and it took us weeks to get the video and reports.
The juvenile court administration tells the I-Team this is still under investigation.
Again, we also reviewed internal reports. One worker called what happened an “inhumane act.”
Another statement refers to housekeeping coming down to power wash everything, but we saw no indication showing why anyone had let that area of the complex get so disgusting.
She realizes some folks won’t have sympathy for the youth involved. The girls all face charges for serious felony crimes. In one case, murder, but they haven’t been convicted. This investigation is putting a spotlight on right and wrong, too
“We should be treated fairly like everybody else,” the teen said.
The Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court did not respond to emails asking for specific comment and a chance for us to ask questions.
A report from one worker indicates a detention manager had no idea the teens were given hazmat suits to use while cleaning up.
There’s no telling how long the internal investigation may take.