State, Justice Department near settlement on lawsuit


Tuesday, May 27th 2008, 8:46 am
By: News 9


Associated Press

TULSA, Okla. -- The executive director of the Oklahoma Office of Juvenile Affairs says the state and the U.S. Justice Department are close to reaching a settlement agreement in a lawsuit over conditions at a juvenile detention facility.

The OJA's Gene Christian says talks have been ongoing since January and could be completed during the next 30 to 60 days.

The Justice Department's Civil Rights Division filed the lawsuit in December 2006, claiming juveniles held at the L.E. Rader Center in Sand Springs had been subjected to sexual and physical assaults.

The 215-bed Rader Center is Oklahoma's only maximum-security lockup for youthful offenders. Records show that either juveniles at the facility or staff members have reported 1,277 assaults during a 3-year period.

U.S. District Judge Gregory Frizzell in Tulsa is overseeing the case. A trial date in April was canceled and Christian says if a settlement is reached in the case, the lawsuit would be stayed if the state complies with the agreement.