LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A lawsuit has been filed against Los Angeles County on behalf of 12 people who claim they were victims of sexual abuse while they were housed at the former MacLaren Hall.
During a press conference on Thursday, civil rights and personal injury attorney Ben Crump and co-counsel Adam Slater announced the lawsuit, which claims the alleged victims were abused as children and the county failed to protect them.
"It is very tragic that these children's trust were betrayed by the very people whose one duty was to protect these children, and they betrayed them," said Crump.
MacLaren Hall operated for more than four decades in El Monte before it was shut down in 2003 as part of a class action settlement led by the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California. It also faced years of allegations of abuse.
The facility that once housed foster children is now the MacLaren Children's Center where social workers have their offices.
"I tried to commit suicide, I overmedicated, I did a lot of things to try to cover up those nightmares that I was experiencing not knowing why until now," said an alleged victim who spoke out during Thursday's press conference.
The Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services issued the following statement following the lawsuit announcement:
"While the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) does not comment on pending litigation, the allegations leveled in any civil claim should and will be thoroughly examined. DCFS serves more than 29,000 vulnerable children and families in Los Angeles County and each of our nearly 9,000 employees is held to the highest standards. Our department has many safeguards in place to protect children in our care and to hold accountable those who violate laws and policies."
A few years ago, the California State Legislature passed a law extending the statute of limitations for child abuse victims, which is why these lawsuits can now be filed.