Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Sexual Abuse in Custody: A Case Law Survey

Amount in Stock

“Under certain circumstances correctional officers and their supervisors can be subject to civil liability for sexual abuse of inmates and detainees under their care. Liability for sexual abuse can attach whether the abuse was perpetrated by a correctional officer, facility employee or volunteer, or by a fellow inmate or detainee. This document provides an overview of sexual abuse cases in both state and federal courts, focusing on what types of conduct most often result in individual and supervisory liability. It does not address other issues that may arise in sexual abuse litigation, such as exhaustion requirements under the Prison Litigation Reform Act, qualified immunity for officers acting in an official capacity, or Eleventh Amendment immunity for states and their employees. Facilities should be mindful that these issues can complicate sexual abuse litigation”. Cases are organized into the 11 Circuits (with their corresponding states) and the D.C. Circuit. Citations are listed according to a successful inmate claim or a successful agency defense for male correctional staff/male inmate, female correctional staff/male inmate, male correctional staff/female inmate, inmate on inmate, juvenile, juvenile-detainee on detainee, juvenile-correctional staff/detainee, or juvenile-male correctional officer/female detainee.