Monday, May 5, 2003
By EMILY SACHS, Staff Writer
MENTONE - A San Bernardino boy who said he was sexually molested while living at Jasper House group home here is suing its operator for placing him at the mercy of a known teenage sexual predator.
The lawsuit targets Silverlake Enterprises Inc., the young suspect and San Bernardino County, although the county may be dropped from the suit.
According to Jack Anthony, the plaintiff's lawyer, and court documents, the boy was placed in a bedroom with a larger 17-year-old boy, where the Feb. 17, 2002, incident occurred.
Anthony said the 17-year-old woke the younger boy and asked him to get in his bed, which he refused. The younger boy was then turned on his back in his bed and the older, much larger boy began "dry humping him,' Anthony said.
He did not penetrate the younger boy, Anthony said. When the younger one told him to stop, he threatened him and then ejaculated on his shorts. The younger boy ran out of the room.
A spokesman for Silverlake declined to comment. Richard Meyer, an attorney for the group home, also declined, saying it was too early to comment.
The lawsuit was filed in November. No trial date has been scheduled.
At the time of the incident, both boys were under the jurisdiction of the county, but the younger boy may have been transferred to the Jasper Avenue home without the county's knowledge. As a result, the county may be dropped from the suit, Anthony said.
The younger boy's mother filed the suit on his behalf. She said he was acting strangely when she and his father visited the next day. There names are being withheld so as not to identify the boy.
"He told us, crying and shaking, in tears,' she said. "That's when I took action.'
They told the group home staff and she said that they knew immediately who did it. She said they also filed a complaint with sheriff's deputies, which was confirmed by a sheriff's spokesman.
Both boys were moved to other homes.
In the year before the incident, the younger boy had been on a downward spiral, skipping school and using methamphetamine, when he was sent to juvenile hall and later two group homes, both of which he ran away from, his mother said. He was then sent to Jasper House where the incident occurred.
The boy is back home and his mother said she decided to file a lawsuit because she feels the group home and the alleged attacker are both at fault.
"If he did it to my son and to other kids and threatened them, who knows what he's doing out there,' she said.
Based on the incident, and complaints about a lack of supervision, investigators from the state Department of Social Services visited the home and found that a night worker was asleep when it happened.
In a correction plan, the group home fired one staff member and reprimanded a second. The night shift schedule was adapted to two split shifts and a night supervisor position was added, said Frankie Shelton, licensing program manager for the department's Community Care Licensing Division.
The San Bernardino County District Attorney's Office does not have a record of the case, said spokeswoman Susan Mickey.
The boy, now 15, returned to his San Bernardino home at Thanksgiving. He is on probation and medication and sees a therapist.
He is going to school regularly, his mother said. He was found using drugs a few months ago and locked up. He has been clean since.
He likes to stay busy and spends much of his time cleaning his room, ironing, washing laundry and doing other chores.
Her son gets angry when the incident at Jasper House is brought up, but otherwise is doing as well as can be expected, she said. She said a skateboard outing was planned for last weekend.
"I want to get him involved in more things so he can forget about the past,' she said.