Utah youth detention center employee charged after teen’s arm broken

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SOUTH SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4) – A youth detention center employee is facing a second-degree felony after authorities say he broke a child’s arm. Investigators say they found a second employee at the Utah youth detention center also falsified information about the incident.

Charging documents show 49-year-old Lufusi Vea Ofa faces one count of second-degree child abuse. This comes after the South Salt Lake Police Department received a Child Abuse Neglect Report from the Division of Child and Family Services in February 2021. Authorities say they were told a 16-year-old’s arm was injured while at the Salt Lake Valley Youth Center when Ofa, an employee, used an unapproved hold.

A detective reports reviewing the video of the incident, saying it began when the teenager stood up quickly and looked at two others in a classroom. At that point, Ofa allegedly enters the classroom, grabs the teen by the back of the shirt, lifts him off the ground, and “violently pulls him to the ground.” The detective says the teenager is then “handed off to another staff member standing at the door.”

“That staff member takes [the teenager] by the back of the neck, secures [him] against the door while Ofa takes [the teenager’s] right arm and places him in a bent wrist hold,” the charging document from Salt Lake County reads. “Ofa escorts [the teenager] to a cell while maintaining the bent wrist hold. Once inside the cell, [the teen] immediately begins looking at and holding his arm, and appears to be in pain.”

According to authorities, the teenager is then seen laying on the floor holding his arm. The medical report taken at the youth detention center says the teenager’s arm and wrist area had a visible bone deformity. Investigators say medical staff called it a “pretty obvious break,” even referring to it as a “Janitor” fracture because “even the janitor could see that it was broken.” Records show the teenager was given a splint and ibuprofen.

Over a week later, the teenager was taken to a clinic where he was diagnosed with an acute fracture of the distal radius, wrist pain, swelling in his forearm, and a fracture of the ulna. A statement from a Juvenile Justice Services Interview Review agent says he determined Ofa engaged with the teenager physically “without proper justification for the use of a Reactive Physical Intervention, did not use a trained Integrated Crisis Response, and failed to accurately account in his incident reports of what happened during the incident.

During an internal review, investigators say they found an Integrated Crisis Response trainer, Jeremy Olsen, gave Ofa staff credit for taking a class that never happened in 2019. Olsen allegedly gave credit to multiple people for canceled training classes. Authorities say Olsen claimed it must have been a clerical error and “he was just randomly hitting buttons.” Olsen is listed as a co-defendant in Ofa’s charging documents.

If convicted of the second-degree child abuse charge, Ofa could face one to 15 years in prison and up to $10,000 in a possible fine.

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