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Cuyahoga County Settles Lawsuit Over Fights At Juvenile Justice Center

The Cuyahoga County Juvenile Justice Center. [Matt Richmond / ideastream]
The Cuyahoga County Juvenile Justice Center.

Cuyahoga County has settled a lawsuit that claims guards at the Juvenile Justice Center encouraged fights between inmates for entertainment.

The county will pay almost $179,500 to settle the suit brought by four former inmates at the juvenile detention center.

The suit accuses guards Freddie Hodges and Joshua Zimmerman of facilitating “fight nights” in which plaintiffs were forced to brawl several times throughout the summer of 2016.

Last year, Cleveland.com published surveillance footage of one of the fights.

Zimmerman later said he was caught off guard and regretted not doing more to stop the fight, according to personnel records. He resigned in 2016.

At a disciplinary hearing, Hodges said he was under stress and allowed juveniles to “wrestle,” but said they were not “fighting” each other, according to his file. The court originally fired him in 2016, but later allowed him to resign.

Earlier this year, Administrative Judge Kristin Sweeney announced an effort to “change the culture” at the detention center after juvenile inmates vandalized a unit at the facility. 

Nick Castele was a senior reporter covering politics and government for Ideastream Public Media. He worked as a reporter for Ideastream from 2012-2022.