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Mom sues over teen’s suicide at Maine youth detention center

April 16, 2021 GMT

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — The mother of a transgender teenager who died by suicide at a youth detention center in Maine has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the state.

Michelle Knowles, of North Vassalboro, filed the lawsuit Tuesday against the Maine Department of Corrections over the death of Charles Knowles, 16, at Long Creek Youth Development Center in the fall of 2016.

Michelle Knowles has said she pleaded with authorities to provide mental health treatment to Charles before his death.

Charles Knowles was a transgender boy who had already lived with intolerance before being placed in the girls unit at Long Creek, his mother said.

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Charles was on suicide watch, and his death prompted a review of the facility’s ability to handle the mental health needs of people who are detained there.

A spokesperson for the corrections department told the Portland Press Herald on Wednesday that the department won’t comment on a pending lawsuit. It also did not answer a question about whether the suicide prevention policy has changed in the aftermath of the teenager’s death.

Michelle Knowles seeks a jury trial and unspecified damages in her lawsuit.

Charles was detained in Long Creek while awaiting a court hearing on charges of setting fire to his house earlier in 2016.