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Six Orange County Probation Department employees were fired and an additional seven others were suspended after an investigation into security lapses at a juvenile facility, which was prompted by reports of two youths in custody having sex.
The details were released Friday in a report by Orange County’s Office of Independent Review, which said it had been monitoring the probation department’s “large and significant investigation into staff diligence” at a juvenile detention facility in Orange.
The investigation began after two teenagers were found having sex in one of the dormitories of Juvenile Hall’s Unit T when the “staff theoretically should have become aware of the issue as part of its routine monitoring protocols,” according to the report. During the internal investigations, officials found that routine checks were supposed to be done on minors every 15 minutes repeatedly were skipped in the high-security unit, where the most serious underage offenders are housed. The two offenders involved in the sex incident both had been arrested for violent, gang-related offenses but had been left unsupervised for hours in one of the rooms of the coed unit.
Since the incident, the man has since been transferred to state prison, and the woman was transferred to the county’s women’s jail.
The investigation also found that electronic logs meant to keep track of the checks “had been filled out inaccurately to cover for this lack of due diligence,” according to a previous report from the Office of Independent Review.
No claims or lawsuits have been filed in connection with the sex incident.
The report, signed by Office of Independent Review Executive Director Stephen J. Connolly, said the department responded “quickly and assertively” in its investigation. It identified 16 employees who had potentially failed in their responsibility to keep tabs on the youths in custody.
Of the 16 officers placed on administrative leave, two later left the department on their own. Four were found to have committed lower levels of misconduct and were allowed to return to work but were disciplined in the form of suspensions.
The department initially decided that the performance of 10 employees warranted termination, the report said. But after an appellate process, three were brought back, although they faced “significant” suspensions. One person’s case is still pending.
Published by Don Ho Law. Don Ho is a criminal defense and employment law attorney in Orange County, California.
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