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Charges: Employee broke detained teen's arm, another altered records

A youth makes his bed in his room at the Salt Lake Valley Youth Center on Feb. 5, 2016.
A youth makes his bed in his room at the Salt Lake Valley Youth Center on Feb. 5, 2016. Two employees at the center were charged Wednesday with crimes connected to a case involving the broken of of a teenage resident.
Laura Seitz, Deseret News

An employee at a youth detention center in South Salt Lake is accused of breaking a teenager's arm.

Lufusi Vea Ofa, 49, of Salt Lake City, was charged Wednesday in 3rd District Court with child abuse, a second-degree felony.

Also, a second employee at the Salt Lake Valley Youth Center, 3450 S. 900 West, was charged Wednesday with going into Ofa's file after the alleged incident with the teenager and changing Ofa's training record so that it showed he had more training hours than he actually had.

Jeremy Scott Olsen, 44, of Orem, is charged with obstructing justice, a third-degree felony.

On Feb. 16, a 16-year-old boy in class at the secure facility stood up quickly and looked at two other teens in the classroom. Ofa then entered the classroom and grabbed the teen by the back of his shirt, lifted him "off his feet and violently" pulled him to the ground, according to charging documents.

While a second staff member held the teen against a door, Ofa took the boy's arm and placed it in a "bent wrist hold," the charges state, then took the boy to a holding cell while "maintaining the bent wrist hold."

Once in the cell, the boy lay on the floor while holding his arm and appeared to be in pain. According to a medical report taken by the center's staff that day, the boy had a "visible bone deformity."

"Medical staff described the deformity as a 'pretty obvious break' and called it a 'janitor' fracture because even the janitor could see that it was broken," according to the charges.

The boy, who "was complaining of significant pain," was given a splint and an ibuprofen, the charges state.

Eight days later, on Feb. 24, the teen was taken to doctor's clinic outside the youth center. An X-ray showed two fractures, according to court documents.

An internal review found Ofa used physical force on the boy without justification and did not use techniques that staff workers are trained to use per policy outlined by Juvenile Justice Services, the charges allege.

"He used a bent wrist technique that was not approved and Ofa failed to accurately account in his incident reports what transpired during the incident, including the nature and extent of (the boy's) injury," according to the charges.

Ofa was placed on administrative leave on Feb. 24.

While the incident was being investigated both internally and by Juvenile Justice Services, it was discovered that Olsen, who trains other employees about the proper techniques for responding to crisis situations, had gone into Ofa's file on March 28 and given him an additional three credits of training for a session that was canceled and never took place, according to charging documents.

"When Olsen was confronted about changing Ofa's records, Olsen claimed it must have been a clerical error and he was just randomly hitting buttons," the charges say.