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Details of alleged sexual abuse at California’s Penny Lane group home
According to the lawsuit filed against the Department of Children and Family Services and Penny Lane Centers, an adoptive mother repeatedly submerged the youngest one in scalding water, causing second- and third-degree burns.
According to the lawsuit, the adoptive mother, Audry Chatmon, also hit the girl with a belt, pulled her hair, hit her in the face and body, scratched her, and burned her with fire–the then 4-year-old girl, “Jada D.”, was hospitalized for weeks and was burned over 15 percent of her body.
Social workers allowed Chatmon, who has a lengthy criminal record, a history of mental health and substance abuse problems, and no means of financial support, to adopt the children.
The Los Angeles County supervisors on Tuesday approved a $420,000 settlement for the two sisters.
Because Penny Lane did not increase the number of staff to accommodate an increased client load–despite staff insistence that the center needed more support due to safety concerns–the increase in clients was accompanied by an increase in incidents, such as:
- Fights between juveniles
- Furniture being thrown by juveniles
- Staff members often were alone with groups of juveniles who would engage in the destruction of property and act combatively toward staff and each other.
Other complaints against the Penny Lane Center included:
- Facility and environmental concerns related to children’s rooms not being well-maintained
- Adequate food was not being well-maintained
- Weekly monetary and monthly clothing allowance logs not being maintained
- Personal needs/ survival and well-being complaints
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 group homes and children's 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 the next day when another probation officer noticed his injuries–the officer later found her cellphone in the parking lot.
The team at Consumer Justice Action believes that every victim of sexual abuse at Penny Lane group home in 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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