In a lawsuit filed this week in the Los Angeles County Superior Court, 20 women who were former detainees at Camp Scott on Bouquet Canyon Road allege they were the victims of rape, sexual assault and harassment while imprisoned there two decades ago.
The lawsuit — which does not name the 20 “Jane Doe” plaintiffs against L.A. County, the Probation Department and various employees — says the women were all minors at the time of their incarceration at Camp Scott, and that the alleged attacks occurred between 1996 and 2001.
The lawsuit alleges that there was “rampant” sexual harassment, assault and rape of “vulnerable child inmates by deputy probation officers, acting as guards” and that the crimes were “ignored by supervisors.”
Los Angeles County Probation officials could not be reached for comment by The Signal as of the publication of this story.
In a news release announcing the lawsuit, the plaintiffs’ attorney, John Manly, stated that his clients were brought into a justice system offering “restorative justice,” but instead, the 20 women were forced into a perpetuating “cycle of abuse.”
“This case will shine a spotlight on a culture of child sexual abuse that has existed throughout the Los Angeles County juvenile probation system for decades,” Manly said in the statement. “Vulnerable children often enter the system because of abuse they have suffered at home or on the streets.”
“The criminal conduct of those who used their positions of authority to sexually assault these children must be exposed,” Manly continued. “These despicable people and those who enabled them (must) be held accountable.”
The claimants in the case allege the abuse happened in various ways and at various times during their time at Camp Scott, including, but not limited to: when they interacted with certain probation officers, engaged in mandatory physical activities, or even when they were sleeping.
The lawsuit alleges that the guards would sexually harass them, expose their penises to the minors, direct sexual innuendo at them and/or make sexual demands and orders of them.
In one particular instance, a former detainee — given the moniker “Jane HR Doe” — arrived at Camp Scott when she was 16 years old. During her time there, she alleges, a deputy probation officer named Thomas Jackson continually sexually harassed her and masturbated in front of her.
When HR reported the alleged abuse to a site administrator, the lawsuit says the 16-year-old was told “it was difficult to believe (her) allegations given (Jackson’s) professional standing.”
After informing her school teacher “Mrs. Jefferson” of the abuse, a medical note was placed in the probationer’s medical file, which Jackson is alleged to have seen, the suit states. He then cornered the girl in his office to interrogate her about what she had told her teacher, the lawsuit says.
“Mrs. Jefferson was concerned that a deputy probation officer would discuss this sensitive information with Jane HR Doe without a counselor present,” the lawsuit reads. “After teaching at Camp Scott for 20 years, Mrs. Jefferson abruptly retired. Upon (HR’s) release from Camp Scott, Mrs. Jefferson and her husband adopted (HR), who resided with them until she was 18 years old.”
The lawsuit, for almost 70 pages, alleges similar treatment by the 19 other women participating in the lawsuit and names, in addition to Thomas, eight other individuals they and their representation hold responsible for the alleged abuse.
The lawsuit lists 12 complaints for damages including gender violence, sexual assault/battery and negligence, among others.
The news release from Manly’s law firm regarding the lawsuit highlights a 2010 Los Angeles Times investigation that reported at least 11 probation officers had been disciplined for inappropriate conduct — including several cases of molesting — youths in the county’s facility. It also claims there were 102 allegations of officer misconduct in youth camps and juvenile halls between 2007 and 2010.
Camp Scott, which has a capacity for 125 youths and operated from 1958 to 2020, is presently on the short list of campuses that may possibly be selected in the coming months to house the county’s entire male violent youth offender population.
The committee in charge of reorganizing the county’s youth justice system, the Juvenile Justice Coordinating Council’s Juvenile Justice Block Grant subcommittee, already selected last year that the county’s female youth offender population will be housed at Camp Dorothy Kirby in Commerce.