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St. Clair County Board settles sexual abuse case for $900,000


Springfield, Ill. – Taxpayers in St. Clair County will pay $900,000 to settle a sexual abuse lawsuit against a former guard at the county's Juvenile Detention Center.

Thomas O'Donnell Jr., 52, worked as a guard and transportation coordinator for seven years at the center. He's accused of abusing a 14-year-old male detainee at the center.

O'Donnell still is awaiting trial on the criminal charges, but the county board recently agreed to pay the boy and his family $900,000 to settle a federal lawsuit.

And because of a glitch in its insurance coverage, the county paid for the settlement out of taxpayers' funds, even though the court system, rather than the county, is responsible for overseeing the detention center.