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More than 1,200 sexual assault survivors helped since 2023.

Sexual Abuse at MacLaren Hall

MacLaren Hall Children’s Center was a state-run adolescent group home in Los Angeles, California, that was at the center of reports of child sexual abuse and neglect for over 40 years until it was finally shut down in 2003. Victims of MacLaren Hall sexual abuse can work with a California child sex abuse attorney to file a lawsuit and gain compensation for what happened to them while in the care of the state.

Survivor Advocate

Key Takeaways

  • MacLaren Hall Children’s Center, a state-run group home in California, was plagued by reports of child sexual abuse and neglect for over 40 years until its closure in 2003.
  • The Child Victims Act has enabled victims of sexual abuse at MacLaren Hall as far back as the 1950s to take legal action against LA country for the abuse they experienced and many victims have already filed suits.
  • If you experienced abuse at MacLaren Hall, you may have the right to seek compensation for the traumatic experiences by working with an experienced law firm to file a civil lawsuit. Reach out to Helping Survivors to get connected with the experts who can help you.

Since its closure, hundreds of former residents have come forward with claims of sexual abuse experienced while in state custody at the group home. However, there were likely thousands of victims harmed during its years of operation.

If you were sexually abused while living at MacLaren Hall, a sexual abuse attorney may be able to help you gain the compensation you deserve.

What is MacLaren Hall Children’s Center?

MacLaren Hall Children’s Center served as an emergency home for children who had been removed from their families due to abuse or neglect and were awaiting foster home placement. The group home was located on a 10-acre campus in El Monte, California, and was in operation from 1961 to 2003.

MacLaren Hall was intended as a temporary housing facility, but children sent to the home often spent a year or more awaiting foster placement. MacLaren Hall was notorious for overcrowding. At times, there were over 300 children at the facility, and roughly 4000 children were sent to the home per year during the 1960s.

Although the children’s home was intended to house children without criminal records or mental or emotional health concerns, over time, it increasingly housed adolescents with a history of violent behavior, mental health conditions and criminal activity. This along with the internally facilitated harm created a situation rife with abuse and violence.

What Happened at MacLaren Hall?

MacLaren Hall Children’s Center offered few resources to the children who lived there, and the home gained a reputation for the neglectful practices and abusive tactics used by staff to maintain control of the overcrowded facility.

Reports maintain that the children living at MacLaren Hall were abused physically, sexually and emotionally. They were beaten, tied up and intentionally over- or under-medicated. Oftentimes, children were forced to sleep on floors due to a shortage of beds, and the general state of the home’s maintenance was unhygienic.

MacLaren Hall has frequently been described as a “children’s prison.” Despite having been created to house children without criminal records, the home was surrounded by barbed wire, the grounds were illuminated by floodlights and abusive disciplinary measures were used to maintain order and prevent runaways.

The Sexual Abuse at MacLaren Hall

Of all the suffering that happened at this children’s home, MacLaren Hall sexual abuse may be the most damaging—and most pervasive. Former residents have reported being sexually abused by staff, doctors and other children living in the facility.

MacLaren Hall was closed in 2003 in response to a lawsuit brought against Los Angeles County by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

Claims made by the ACLU included a lack of medical and mental health support for the children living there, as well as inadequate training for the staff members charged with caring for the adolescent residents. MacLaren Hall had only begun requiring background checks on staff members two years before closing its doors in 2003.

Hundreds of former children housed at MacLaren Hall have come forward with reports of sexual abuse. However, MacLaren Hall Children’s Center was in operation for over four decades and housed an estimated total of 20,000 children.

It’s believed that thousands more victims have yet to come forward. When and if they do come forward, they stand to gain compensation for the abuse suffered at the hands of Los Angeles County.

Can MacLaren Hall Victims Receive Compensation for the Sexual Abuse They Endured?

A child sex abuse case falls under personal injury law. Compensation for this type of case is split between economic damages related to the harm and non-economic damages for harm without a corresponding dollar amount.

Child sexual abuse is a particularly heinous type of crime, especially in an institutionalized setting. It can create long-term mental and emotional issues and physical health problems and impact a victim’s quality of life in many ways.

Victims of MacLaren Hall sex abuse stand to gain significant compensation for what was done to them while in the care of the state.

Is it Too Late for Me to Take Action Against MacLaren Hall?

In 2019, California passed the California Child Victims Act, which allows victims of childhood sexual abuse to take legal action until they reach the age of 40. For the majority of MacLaren Hall sex abuse victims, there is still time to contact a lawyer.

Additionally, the law recognizes that child victims of sexual abuse may not understand the crimes committed against them until later in life and allows a “permanent exception” to the statute of limitations. In this instance, the law allows legal action until the victim reaches age 40 or five years from the date of discovering the abuse, whichever is later.

Do I Need to Provide Evidence that I was Sexually Abused at MacLaren Hall?

In a case involving MacLaren Hall sex abuse, the law firm representing you will do most of the work collecting evidence on your behalf. A MacLaren Hall claim needs to show two different types of evidence—negligence and harm.

Proving negligence in the case of MacLaren Hall depends on who committed the sexual abuse. If the perpetrator was an employee or staff member, your lawyer will need to show that they were unfit to work in a position with children.

If the perpetrator was another juvenile resident, your lawyer will similarly have to show that necessary precautions for keeping adolescent residents safe were not taken. In both cases, it will need to be proven that the sexual abuse occurred and that Los Angeles County knew or should have known about the abuse taking place.

Medical bills and expenses for health conditions developed as a result of the abuse are examples of evidence that can be used to prove harm was done.

If a victim’s experiences at MacLaren Hall resulted in significant trauma, your lawyer may be able to build a case showing how a victim’s adverse experiences resulted in a diminished earning capacity in adulthood.

Do I Need a Lawyer to Submit a Claim Against MacLaren Hall?

Submitting a claim for institutional child sexual abuse against Los Angeles County can be a complex legal process.

A MacLaren Hall sex abuse victim stands to gain significant compensation, but it requires the experience of a California child sex abuse attorney building a case and negotiating on your behalf.

Attempting to build a civil case without legal representation could result in a victim receiving less compensation than they deserve.

What if I Can't Afford a California Sexual Abuse Lawyer?

An abuse victim’s current financial situation shouldn’t impact their ability to begin working with a lawyer immediately. Most California sexual abuse lawyers work on a contingency basis. With this payment agreement, a lawyer is paid directly out of the compensation value awarded once the case is complete.

Additionally, many states have legal aid organizations that will provide legal services pro-bono or at a reduced cost for sexual abuse survivors. For example, in Pennsylvania the PCAR Sexual Violence Legal Assistance Project provides free legal advice and representation to sexual abuse survivors. Similarly in Texas, LASSA (Legal Aid for Survivors of Sexual Assault), offers free and confidential legal services for survivors. To learn more about the organizations in your state, try looking up legal assistance for sexual abuse survivors + your state.

What if I am a Victim That Does Not Want to Pursue Public Legal Action Against MacLaren Hall?

Many child sexual abuse survivors never report the abuse or press criminal or civil charges against their abuser for a variety of valid reasons. Many are afraid to publicly name their abuser or openly discuss the trauma they have experienced.

If you experienced sexual abuse at MacLaren Hall and you do not wish to pursue legal action against the institution, you can and should still seek support from survivor resources if you have not already done so. Surviving childhood sexual abuse can result in many long-term health effects, such as PTSD, depression, anxiety and more, but there are organizations, survivor support groups, and therapy and counseling services that can help you process and heal from the trauma you have experienced.

Adult Survivors of Child Abuse (ASCA) offers resources for individuals who were victims of sexual assault as children and are seeking ongoing support. Their self-help group offers community-based programs, web-based help options, and much more to aid survivors in their healing journey.

The National Sexual Assault hotline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 800-656-4673 (HOPE) and online chat is available at www.rainn.org.

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