Mar 10, 2022
20 women allege that they were sexually abused at Camp Joseph Scott, a Los Angeles County all-girls juvenile detention facility, according to an L.A. Times report. The alleged sexual abuse occurred over the course of a dozen years, and was described as “widespread” by The Hill.
According to a lawsuit filed Wednesday, at least 10 Los Angeles County probation officers and staff members subjected the survivors, who were minors at the time of the incidents, to various types of sexual violence, including:
The Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit, which the Pasadena Star-News referred to as “still-unofficial,” alleges the abuse took place from 1996 through 2008 at the Santa Clarita juvenile detention facility, which closed in 2020. At the time of the alleged abuse, Camp Scott housed females aged 12 to 18, according to the Pasadena Star-News.
“This action seeks to vindicate the rights of numerous women who were sexually abused, harassed and molested at the hands of Los Angeles County deputy probation officers and employees,” the plaintiffs’ court papers state.
The Los Angeles Times reported that the specific violations of the female juvenile camp inmates outlined in the complaint included:
“In at least one case, a deputy probation officer is accused of impregnating a teenager, court documents show, while another staff member continued to victimize a different girl even after she was released, meeting her at a motel for sex,” the Los Angeles Times reported.
According to the complaint, “The perpetrators used this position of trust and authority to repeatedly sexually abuse juvenile females in their custody, care, control and direction.”
The Pasadena Star-News reported that a representative for Los Angeles County did not immediately reply to a request for comment. Don Meredith, a member of the L.A. County Probation Oversight Commission, told the Los Angeles Times that he could not comment on any ongoing litigation or criminal or internal investigations of Camp Scott.
Jo Kaplan, a former commissioner on the county Probation Oversight committee, told the Los Angeles Times that regular disciplinary system problems at Camp Scott led to mistreatment of minors.
“It does not surprise me. The conditions were horrible,” Kaplan said to the Times. “The probation department heads at the time allowed children’s lives to be ruined every day.”
Although all of the plaintiffs listed in the lawsuit are identified using Jane Doe aliases, the Los Angeles Times spoke with one Camp Scott sexual abuse survivor who chose to be identified for the report.
Akeila Jefferson, 38, told the Los Angeles Times “that she was 16 when she entered Camp Scott a second time, and deputy probation officer Thomas Jackson began grooming her for sexual favors – slipping her toiletries, including soaps and lotions her grandmother couldn’t get to her.”
“First, he began touching her sexually, and eventually assaulted her four or five times in the laundry room, guard shack and camp office,” the Los Angeles Times reported. “He warned her he would make her time at camp difficult if she told anyone.”
The lawsuit alleges that when Jackson was made acting assistant camp director, he ordered Jefferson to his office and forced her to perform oral sex.
“I know. Now that I’m thinking about it, it sounds like I should know that that was crazy, that I should ever feel like we’re in some type of relationship,” Jefferson told The Times.
Court records further indicate that when Jefferson was released a second time from Camp Scott, Jackson took her out to eat, to shop, and to a rented motel room for repeated sexual encounters.
“I always felt I had to go. It never crossed my mind otherwise,” she told the Times.
A 2018 survey from the U.S. Department of Justice found that hundreds of teens are raped or sexually assaulted in juvenile detention facilities annually. Although the majority of abuse was committed by staff members, only 6% of the teen survivors ever reported instances of sexual violence, according to the DOJ report.
The Los Angeles Times reported that a 2008 two-year federal investigation uncovered “systemic abuse” of youths in area detention facilities.
According to the Times:
“A staff member at Camp Scott, which failed to report to the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services an inappropriate relationship between a girl and a staff member, was implicated in two prior abuse reports. Threatened by a federal lawsuit, county supervisors opted to hire a team of independent monitors to improve safety at L.A.’s 19 facilities.”
Moreover, a 2010 Los Angeles Times investigation found that at least 11 employees working in juvenile detention halls and camps had been convicted of crimes or punished for inappropriate conduct involving current or former probationers (although many more had escaped discipline).
Children are considered minors under California law. Accordingly, a child is never able to give consent, and any sexual act involving a minor is considered abuse. Under the law, childhood sexual abuse can entail sexual assault or sexual exploitation.
California law broadly defines child sexual assault as including any sexual act, such as rape, sodomy, incest, oral sex, etc. Furthermore, the following actions constitute a sex crime under California law:
Under California law, sexual exploitation of a child can also include depicting a minor in any of the aforementioned acts that are considered sexual assault. Any adult who promotes, uses, or coerces a child into participating in (or encouraging others to participate in) the following actions is committing sexual exploitation under California law:
For childhood sex crimes, the California statute of limitations is temporarily paused under Assembly Bill 218 (AB 218). AB 218, which took effect on January 1, 2020, tolls (pauses) the statute of limitations on all childhood sex crimes through the end of 2022.
In other words, all survivors of childhood sexual abuse or assault may currently file civil claims/lawsuits seeking financial compensation until December 31, 2022. However, as of January 1, 2023, the standard statute of limitations will resume, and survivors who did not file claims will likely be left without any legal recourse.
Additionally, California AB 218 includes a treble damages award clause which gives the courts latitude to triple financial settlements or verdicts in cases where a cover-up is proven. For example, if you are a sexual abuse survivor who was victimized through a systemic cover-up (at either an individual or institutional level), and that malfeasance was able to be proven in court, a $1 million damages award could theoretically be increased to $3 million under the AB 218 treble damages clause.
AB 218’s treble damages clause was included in the legislation in an effort to severely punish bad actors who participated in systemic cover-ups, often over the course of several decades. Such cover-ups in organizations including the Boy Scouts of America and Catholic Church have impacted countless innocent survivors, but AB 218 offers all victims an opportunity at justice.
For additional information on California AB 218 and how it offers survivors of childhood sexual abuse an unprecedented opportunity at justice, please visit our recent blog post.
California childhood sexual assault civil lawsuits may be brought in an effort to recover financial compensation for various types of losses. Depending on the circumstances of childhood sex crime, compensatory damages may be pursued and recovered through a civil claim.
Examples of some common damages that may be secured through a California childhood sexual assault or abuse civil claim include:
Although children impacted by sexual abuse are currently eligible to file civil claims regardless of when a crime occurred, the statute of limitations is different for adult survivors of sexual violence. For adult sexual assault survivors, the California statute of limitations on sex crimes allows you to file a civil claim up to 10 years after an incident. Moreover, the statute of limitations allows for a three-year window in civil claims where sexual assaults lead to the discovery of a psychological injury, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
DLG is a leading California-based sexual assault firm representing survivors across the United States. DLG offers survivors a unique type of legal representation which includes a four-tiered team of professionals known as the SAJE Team.
Led by Sam Dordulian, DLG’s experienced childhood sexual assault lawyers have helped countless survivors secure maximum financial damages awards.
Some of our recent sexual assault civil lawsuit victories include:
For a free and confidential consultation regarding your childhood sexual assault or abuse civil claim, contact a member of DLG’s SAJE Team today at 818-322-4056. Our sex crime attorneys have helped victims recover more than $100,000,000 in settlements and verdicts while maintaining a 98% success record.
Our law firm in Glendale, CA advocates for victims of sexual assault, injury, employment disputes, and personal injury concerns.