Nearly 300 File Lawsuit Over Alleged Abuse at LA County Juvenile Halls

Nearly 300 File Lawsuit Over Alleged Abuse at LA County Juvenile Halls
Camp Scott, an all-girls juvenile facility in Los Angeles County, Calif., in 2015. (Barbara Davidson/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
City News Service

LOS ANGELES—Nearly 300 boys and girls allege in a new lawsuit they were sexually assaulted, harassed, and abused by Los Angeles County probation and detention officers while being held in county juvenile facilities.

The 359-page Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit filed Dec. 20 alleges minor detainees at county juvenile camps and detention centers were abused during the time of their mandated detainment. Lawyers for the 279 plaintiffs contend the county failed hundreds of minors through negligence, including a lack of adequate hiring policies to screen for potential sexual predators within its facilities, and failure to provide appropriate training and supervision of staff and employees.

The lawsuit also claims that while the plaintiffs were incarcerated, they were abused under the guise of “authority.” The allegations include grooming, unsupervised inmate access that led to verbal and physical abuse, and inadequate training of employees on proper standards. Lawyers for the plaintiffs say Los Angeles County failed to provide juvenile detainees with necessary supervision to keep them safe from harm.

“It’s an absolute disgrace that the pandemic multiple-decade-long abuses of these minor victims within the exclusive control of Los Angeles County’s juvenile detention system were allowed to run its course for as long as they did with no consequences or recourse,” Doug Rochen, a partner at ACTS Law, which filed the lawsuit, said in a statement. “The irreversible trauma, suffering, and emotional and physical abuse that these children underwent will be a lifelong struggle that they will live with forever. The county should be held responsible for the predatory behavior of these officers and county officials they hired, failed to properly vet, and failed to properly train.”

The alleged assaults occurred between the 1970s and 2018 and happened at Camp Scott and Camp Kenyon Scudder, both girls facilities, and Challenger Memorial Youth Center, the Los Padrinos, Central and Barry J. Nidorf juvenile halls, according to the Los Angeles Times, which first reported the lawsuit.

County officials did not respond to The Times for a request for comment.

However, Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn told the paper the accusations are “stomach-turning.”

“The officers responsible for this abuse need to be held accountable,” she said. “They have no business working for the county, and they should face criminal charges.”

The lawsuit was filed during a window created by a 2020 state law that opened a three-year period for individuals to sue over sexual abuse claims from decades ago, and effectively paused California’s statutes of limitations and provided an opportunity to file suits for civil damages. After 2022, suits can be filed only if the alleged incidents are less than 40 years old or if it has been five years since plaintiffs encountered psychological effects from alleged past sexual abuse.