Dozens of Women Sexually Abused By Probation Officers Across Los Angeles County
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA (August 19, 2022) – At least 70 girls incarcerated at various Los Angeles County juvenile camps and detention facilities were sexually abused by probation officers, according to a new lawsuit filed Thursday.
This lawsuit comes shortly after a similar lawsuit was filed in March where 20 women said that they were sexually assaulted over 12 years at Camp Joseph Scott – an all girls juvenile detention facility in Los Angeles County.
The new lawsuit alleges that the abuse occurred from 1985 – 2019. Numerous institutions were named in the lawsuit including Camp Scott, Camp Kenyon Scudder, Camp Challenger, the Dorothy Kirby Center, Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall, Central Juvenile Hall and many other locations across Los Angeles County.
One probation officer is accused of sexually abusing as many as 12 different girls. Los Angeles County juvenile detention centers have a long and lurid history of being infested with a culture of sexual abuse.
According to one investigation by the L.A. times, 11 L.A. County juvenile probation officers were convicted or disciplined for sexual misconduct. Many of these cases involved children being molested or beaten while in custody.
In several instances, the victims were left alone with their abusers, which is a violation of county and state policy. Male officers are said to have touched female juvenile probationers in plain sight of co-workers. In some situations, officers were allowed to enter unsupervised in sleeping quarters.
In other instances, young girls were groomed for sexual favors. The 70 women that have come forward are likely only a minority of the total number of victims.
It is believed that there are still victims out there who have yet to share their story.
Liability For Sexual Abuse At Los Angeles County Juvenile Detention Facilities
Female juvenile inmates are among the most vulnerable groups in our jail system. They are regularly the targets of sexual abuse and then indifference after the abuse has taken place. It does not help that most correctional officers are men. According to the Washington Post, a recent survey from the Justice Department revealed that around 7.1% of juvenile respondents reported being sexually abused in the last 12 months. A lack of adequate oversight by prison officers is one of the most common contributing factors for inmate sexual abuse. There are many steps that correctional facilities should take in order to prevent juveniles from being sexually abused.
- Correctional officers should be well trained.
- There should be a healthy mix of male and female correctional officers in women’s prisons.
- Correctional officers should be properly supervised. They should not be allowed to be isolated with inmates at any time.
- Reports of abuse should be properly reported and thoroughly investigated.
It is a crime for any person to engage in sexual activity with a minor. Pursuant to California Penal Code 288, it is a crime for a person to commit any lewd or lascivious act on a child under 16 years of age. This includes touching a child’s body for sexual purposes. The touching does not need to be on bare skin. It is also illegal for any correctional officer to engage in sexual activity with an inmate, regardless of the age of the inmate. According to California Penal Code 289.6 (a), “An employee or officer of a public entity health facility, or an employee, officer, or agent of a private person or entity that provides a health facility or staff for a health facility under contract with a public entity, who engages in sexual activity with a consenting adult who is confined in a health facility is guilty of a public offense.” It does not matter whether the inmate gave their consent.
There is too much of a power difference between a correctional officer an any inmate for a sexual relationship to be consensual. This is even more true when the inmate in question is a juvenile. When a correctional officers sexually abuses someone in custody, their employer could potentially face civil liability for their actions. Generally speaking, employers are liable for the wrongful actions of their employees – insofar as those employees were working within the course and scope of their job duties. Correctional facilities have a legal obligation to provide inmates with a reasonably safe environment. When a prison, jail or juvenile detention facility fails to adequately supervise correctional officers, this could form the basis of a negligence claim. There are a number of steps that should be taken after any instance of inmate sexual abuse.
- An experienced inmate abuse attorney should be consulted.
- All relevant jail records should be preserved.
- A formal report of the abuse should be made.
- Surveillance footage should be sought.
- Eye witnesses should be interviewed.
- A thorough, independent investigation should be conducted.
California recently passed Assembly Bill No. 1455. The bill went into effect in 2022 and substantially broadens the statute of limitations for when abuse victims can pursue a claim against correctional officers. In particular, a claim can be made within ten years of any judgement against a correctional officer. A claim can be pursued 10 years from the date of the last act, attempted act, or assault with intent to commit sexual assault against the plaintiff. Moreover, a claim can be pursued three years from the date that a plaintiff discovers (or reasonably should have discovered) an injury or illness resulting from sexual assault against the plaintiff. Many of the injuries associated with sexual assault are psychological and may not be obvious or easily discoverable for substantial periods of time. These changes to the statute of limitations are also retroactive.
Any person that has been sexually abused while staying at a juvenile detention facility may have legal recourse through a civil claim. Damages in a civil claim can help cover lost wages, medical bills, and pain and suffering. Sexual abuse is incredibly destructive and harmful to a person’s overall well-being. This is particularly true for children. Sadly, though, prisons, jails and municipal entities will often fight extremely hard to deny liability for any abuse that takes place on their watch. This is why it so important that all relevant evidence is properly preserved. A sexual abuse attorney can examine all of the unique facts of your case and let you know what your legal options are.
Investigating Sexual Abuse At Los Angeles County Juvenile Detention Facilities
We at Carrillo Law Firm, LLP extend our thoughts and prayers to all of the abuse victims who have suffered at the hands of Los Angeles County correctional officers. It is our sincere hope that the perpetrators of these crimes will be held accountable for their actions. Moreover, the people who enabled the perpetrators need to be held accountable as well. Abuse does not happen in a vacuum. It is our sincere hope that steps are taken to prevent these crimes from happening ever again.
Have you or someone that you love been abused by Los Angeles County correctional officers. There are a number of laws designed to help you. The persons responsible for harming you can be held accountable through a civil or even criminal claim. Our team of highly skilled and compassionate inmate advocates are here to help in any way that we can. We care deeply that all people are aware of their rights and that those rights are being protected. You are always welcome to reach out to us anytime at 626-349-1175.