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Details of alleged sexual abuse at Lake Hughes, California’s Camp William Mendenhall
According to an L.A. Times report, 20 women allege that they were sexually abused at Camp Joseph Scott, a Los Angeles County all-girls juvenile detention facility in Santa Clarita.
The women allege a culture of abuse at the Santa Clarita Valley military-style boot camp, where no fewer than 10 staff members subjected them to repeated sexual assault–the incidents occurred between 1996 and 2008.
Many of the women say the violations started with staff at the detention center watching them shower and progressed to unwanted touching and eventually forced sex acts.
The Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit alleges the abuses took place from 1996 through 2001 at the detention facility for juveniles convicted of criminal offenses and operated by the county Probation Department.
The camp closed in 2020–but at the time of the alleged abuse, Camp Scott housed females aged 12 to 18.
The camp’s staff–made up of deputy probation officers–controlled every aspect of the girls’ lives and could cut off mail or visitations as well as decide punishments, including a day or more in “the box,” a solitary confinement unit.
Victims and their families are encouraged to request a free, private case evaluation from a qualified attorney as soon as possible, as victims only have until the end of 2022 to file a valid claim!
Specific instances of sexual abuse allegations in California juvenile detention camps and centers
Los Angeles County alone is one of the nation’s largest juvenile justice systems, with probation officers responsible for protecting 3,000 youths in 21 halls and camps.
The department, operating with a yearly budget of approximately $700 million, has been the subject of various federal investigations in recent years for failing to prevent, report, and document child abuse.
The Los Angeles Times identified the following cases through court documents, law enforcement records, and department sources.
Specific instances of sexual and physical abuse allegations in California group homes and children's centers include:
- A probation officer was captured on tape beating a youth in a juvenile hall recreation room – the officer was later convicted of battery and sentenced to 24 months probation.
The disciplined officer’s attorney said “extenuating circumstances” led to the beating, noting that his client was not properly trained to supervise violent youths.”
- A probation officer was found to have had sexual intercourse with three youths in the laundry, supply, and interview rooms of the detention hall where she worked – she later pled guilty to five counts of felony sexual abuse and was sentenced to four years in prison.
According to the officer, “I had a consensual relationship with a young man who was 17 and I stupidly thought I was in love with…everything else I did was completely inappropriate, unethical and extremely unprofessional.”
- A probation officer instructed five teenagers under her care to beat another teenager – she mistakenly believed a youth inmate had stolen her cellphone and was later sentenced to a year in jail.
The injured child was not allowed to see a doctor until another probation officer noticed his injuries the next day–the officer later found her cellphone in the parking lot.
The team at Shield Justice Watch believes that every victim of sexual abuse at Camp William Mendenhall in Lake Hughes, California, should receive justice and compensation in a court of law – remember that victims only have until the end of 2022 to file a valid claim!
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