Shelter counselor accused of molestation

ORANGE Authorities are looking for other possible victims.

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Officials say the group counselor has worked at a children's emergency shelter care facility for more than two years. The arrest came after an allegation was made by another juvenile at the home who said she had heard rumors of inappropriate behavior. That's when authorities were called.

Twenty-four-year-old Abner Avila is facing a number of charges, including unlawful sexual penetration and child annoyance, allegedly involving a girl under the age of 18 who was living temporarily at the facility.

The Orangewood Children's Home is described as a shelter of last resort for kids who have been abandoned, neglected or abused.

Authorities say the allegations go back to November 2007.

"The victim was being temporarily housed at that facility," said OC Sheriff's Spokesman Jim Amormino. "The first incident happened at the facility. The second incident happened as the group counselor was driving the victim to take a test. He repeated the acts inside his vehicle."

Authorities say the third alleged incident also happened in Avila's car, two weeks ago, when he went to Anaheim to the foster home where the girl was living.

Avila, a Lake Elsinore resident, is free after posting $100,000 bail.

Orangewood officials say they did background checks on Avila. Nothing came up. Orangewood stresses that this is the first time in its 23 years of operation that anything like this has happened. Thousands of children have come through this facility. An internal investigation is also under way.

Avila is no longer employed at Orangewood with these charges pending.


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