In July, four teens made a violent escape from the Cass County Juvenile Detention Center. They assaulted employees, stole a car and crashed it before they were arrested.

A current employee and a former employee reached out to KCTV5 to talk about what they call "unsafe conditions" at the facility. They both asked that KCTV5 conceal their identities.

"I believe it’s in the dark and needs to be exposed to light. That's why I'm here," the current employee said.

He said he was attacked when one teen almost escaped in March. He claims John Hearle put him in a choke hold, but he was able to break free. Hearle was charged as an adult.

The employee said he hoped the near escape would have been a wake-up call for the detention center administration, but said his concerns were dismissed.

After that attack, rumors circulated that a group was planning an escape. Staff had heard this group was handpicking the guards they thought they could easily overpower.

"They executed that plan brilliantly," said the current employee.

The now former employee said she was one of their targets in the July escape.

"She grabbed me by the throat. I fell right on my shoulder," she said, describing the attack. "She was choking me and choking me. I came very close to passing out."

She said the teens dragged her into a corridor and locked her in. She watched helplessly through the glass as her colleagues were brutally beaten.

"One of them got struck with a telephone numerous times on her ear," she recalls.

She said another employee had to have 17 staples in his head from after he was severely beaten.

She said the teens went to the employee locker room and stole her keys. They found her car in the parking lot and took off. The car was later found wrecked in Bates County.

"They ran off the road. They hit a barbed wire fence. My car it looked like a can opener tried to open it and then they hit a tree," she said

Both the current employee and the former employee say nothing was done to prevent the attack. They both claim the Cass County Juvenile Detention Center staff was not properly trained.

"I asked several times to get a self-defense class of some type. I was always told we didn't have enough money," the former employee said.

They say the control area that operates all the doors and locks is not secured by glass like other detention facilities.

After the first escape attempt in March, Chief Juvenile Officer Beverly Newman said, "the facility is very secure. The likelihood of escape is minimal."

KCTV5 filed an open records request asking for video of the attack. The request also asked for the incident reports and for the number of violent incidents between the juveniles and staff. The Chief Juvenile Officer said she is seeking guidance from the Missouri Attorney General's Office on how to process the request since it involves minors.

A spokesperson for the Missouri Attorney General's Office said the request is under review and a decision will come in the next week.

KCTV5 also asked Newman for comment about the former and current employees' claims, but she declined.

The former employee said she's now seeing a psychologist who has diagnosed her with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

She said no one has reimbursed her for the car that was totaled in the escape.

The teens in the July incident were not charged as adults so their disciplinary records are not public.

Copyright 2015 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.



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