NEW CASTLE (KDKA) — A Westmoreland County man has filed a lawsuit in Federal Court in Pittsburgh in an effort to get his 14-year-old son out of a detention facility in Lawrence County.
The boy, identified in court papers by the initials C.T., has been confined to the Krause Youth Shelter in New Castle since early April.
The teen has never been charged with a crime. But he has run away from his mother’s home in the New Castle-area repeatedly because of what he calls panic attacks.
A Lawrence County judge assigned the boy to Children and Youth Services, and the boy ended up at the shelter.
His father, Kevin Thomas, told KDKA-TV’s Ralph Iannotti that he and the teen’s mother get to see C.T. one hour each week.
“My son doesn’t deserve this; he’s a great kid,” said Thomas. “My son very much wants out; he wants to be safe.
“He has no visitors there,” he added. “His mother and I get to see him for one hour each per week, but no friends, no outside… no other family. His education itself has really been left to, ‘you’re a smart kid, do it yourself.’”
Thomas’ lawyer, Pittsburgh attorney Richard Sandow, says a habeas corpus lawsuit was filed Thursday in U.S. District Court on behalf of Thomas because his client was getting no satisfaction from state courts.
“The boy is not a threat to anybody,” Sandow said. “He’s not a threat to run away, except he won’t stay with his mom because of the panic attacks.”
According to the lawsuit, “the boy is a prisoner of the Commonwealth, locked away without trial. He’s been denied education and religious studies.”
“Any father would be proud to have a boy like mine as their son,” Thomas said, “and it’s not right how my boy is being treated since he’s committed no crime and nor has he been charged with any wrongdoing.”