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LA boot camp owner, instructor accused of beating kids

March 14, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
A boot camp owner and an instructor are facing serious charges of beating and kicking kids at their discipline camp.

The alleged abuse took place at a forest campsite and at the group's East Los Angeles headquarters.

180 Recon is a military boot camp for troubled teens, but investigators say the owner, former Marine 36-year-old Edgar Alvarado, and an instructor, 21-year-old Ruben Romero, took the tough love too far.

The kids were kidnapped from their homes in the middle of the night with their parents' consent, but detectives say what the parents didn't know was how violent the boot camp could be.

"This isn't a scared straight. This is abuse. These kids were seriously injured and this type of stuff needs to stop," said Sgt. Dan Scott with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Special Victims Bureau.

According to investigators, the teens, nine males and two females ranging in age from 12 to 17 years old, were hit, kicked and dragged. Some of them had to go to the hospital with serious life-threatening injuries.

Romero faces three misdemeanor counts of battery. Alvarado faces a list of felonies, including corporal injury to a child and sexual battery for allegedly inappropriately touching one of the girls.

"There are some allegations by some of the children who went to the camp we think is overblown," said defense attorney Keith Bowman.

In operation since 2008, hundreds of kids have gone through the program. Authorities say there have been previous investigations, but nothing that led to charges until now. Detectives believe there may be more victims out there.

"We definitely believe there's more. We're working on trying to find records on how many were in the system and how many are still out there unidentified," said Scott.

Anyone with information was asked to call investigators at (877) 710-LASD.


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