LA shelter for kids was a den for sexual abuse

LOS ANGELES (AP) – A Los Angeles County-run shelter that has been waiting to be housed in a safe space for children for decades was a body of sex-grabbing staff among its staff – and some of its neighbors – who caught children as children. Like 5, according to a lawsuit filed by dozens of ordinary residents on Thursday.

Some of the more than 30 defendants spoke at a press conference, weeping and trembling as the abuse and some of the victims determined their attempts to escape through the fences and sheltered doors of the hall. Among the victims was a 6-year-old boy who was arrested in 1990 by a male employee who locked a boy in a closet as punishment for screaming in the attack, according to the lawsuit.

Jonathan Wright, 39, received a T-shirt when he was taken to the MacLA Children’s Center in El Monte when he was 8 years old. There a doctor said he had been sexually abused.

“Today, I hate being around doctors,” she said with a sob.

Workers often turned a blind eye to assaults and misconduct at the facility, where children were placed in routine incommunicado detention, drugged and held in chairs, the lawsuit said.

(Author’s note: This story covers a discussion of sexual violence. If you or someone you know needs help, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673).

The Associated Press does not normally designate victims of sexual assault unless they have given permission.

Octavia Evans said she was 12 when she was abused. He called for the courage to report the workers and said they had taken him to the boss, who was the perpetrator of the abuse.

At the age of 36, Evans addressed all former MacLaren employees who could have seen the press conference: “We were kids, and we trusted you to take care of us, not hurt us.”

The lawsuit filed in Los Angeles County High Court on Thursday calls for a jury trial and unspecified damages. The facility, known as MacLaren Hall, is the second to be recently filed against the Count for alleged sexual abuse of foster children.

Victims’ attorneys say they have more than 200 clients who say they have been abused at the facility. The lawsuit alleges that he entered the courtroom and that the outside officials knew or should have known about the ill-treatment and did not act.

“MacLaren Hall has become a landfill for the most vulnerable in society, including minors without parents, or minors who could not care for their parents,” the lawsuit said. “Children were often taken out of abuse homes and placed in the MacL room to be abused again.”

The facility opened in 1961 and was overseen by the county custody department and then in 1976 came under the county’s Department of Children and Family Services. More than 20,000 children passed through the hall before it closed in 2003.

Eight women and four men filed a lawsuit in May, including a 5-year-old man in 1988 who allegedly was assaulted by a male employee in a toilet.

The Child and Family Service released a statement saying it did not want to comment on the case, but said the allegations would be “examined in detail.”

“Our department has a lot of protection to protect the children in our care and to hold those who violate the law and policies accountable,” the statement said.

MacLa was shut down in 2003 after the Southern California Civil Liberties Union Foundation and other organizations filed a class action lawsuit for failing to investigate reports of employee cruelty and ill-treatment. An ACLU report described the conditions as “Dickensian” with children who were so marginalized that they were “child-sponsored child abuse.”

Los Angeles County has settled the dispute with the ACLU and has paid settlements to some of the victims.

MacLaren did not set a staff precedent until 2001. After the verification was established, attorney Adam P. Slater said he had a criminal record that would have to disqualify him from hiring 17 employees.

“It was medieval in the way it was executed. … MacLaren Hall had more in common with a children’s prison ”than a safe place for children, Slater said.

Therefore, they were able to file lawsuits A California law It went into effect in 2020 and suspended the three-year limitation period for filing cases against victims of child sexual abuse.

California statute of limitations for reporting certain sexual abuse offenses runs out when a child victim turns 40 years old. The Sheriff’s Department – which controls the county facility – and the district attorney did not immediately respond to find out whether the law enforcement has launched a criminal investigation on behalf of the MacL victims.

Victims’ lawyers say they have not heard of any criminal investigation into MacLaren since the mid-1980s, when five workers were arrested for child abuse and drug trafficking, according to the lawsuit.

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