Support for LAist comes from
We Explain L.A.
Stay Connected

Share This


A Dozen Former Foster Youth Come Forward With Claims Of Abuse At Shuttered MacLaren Children’s Center In El Monte

A detail of a wooden gavel with gold details is shown.
A lawyer representing alleged abuse victims says there will be a series of lawsuits against L.A. County.
(Photo via Shutterstock)
Before you
Dear reader, we're asking you to help us keep local news available for all. Your tax-deductible financial support keeps our stories free to read, instead of hidden behind paywalls. We believe when reliable local reporting is widely available, the entire community benefits. Thank you for investing in your neighborhood.

A dozen people are suing L.A. County, alleging rampant sexual abuse at a long-shuttered temporary home for foster children in El Monte.

One person claims they were sexually assaulted in a supply closet. Another says they were medicated with pills and injections before being abused.

The plaintiffs say all of this happened at the MacLaren Children’s Center, which was shut down in 2003 after numerous reports of child abuse.

Attorney James W. Lewis alleges the 10-acre facility was run like a prison, with guards, floodlights and tall walls topped with barbed wire.

Support for LAist comes from

“The abuse was very, very widespread with a number of individuals, it wasn’t just one or two,” Lewis said. “There was just no real oversight inside the walls of this facility.”

L.A. County’s Department of Children and Family services ran the facility for nearly three decades.

In an emailed statement, the department said it won’t comment on pending litigation, but that “the allegations leveled in any civil claim should and will be thoroughly examined.''

Lewis said this will be the first in a series of lawsuits claiming sexual abuse, with his firm representing “over 200 clients.”

Lewis added that this legal action is possible now because of an extension of the statute of limitations, as well as survivors connecting on social media.

What questions do you have about Southern California?