ACLU lawsuit alleges ‘unchecked groping,’ other sex abuse at O.C. homeless shelters

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The Courtyard, a temporary homeless shelter in Santa Ana, is shown in March 2020. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

The Courtyard, a temporary homeless shelter in Santa Ana, is shown in March 2020. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

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The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California filed a lawsuit Thursday alleging that sex abuse, overcrowding and unhealthy conditions are rampant in three Orange County homeless shelters, saying conditions had not improved since it released a scathing 2019 report on the county’s emergency shelters.

“To spend nights in Orange County emergency shelters for people experiencing homelessness, women have had to endure relentless sexual harassment, including highly invasive body searches and voyeurism from staff members, as well as unchecked groping and lewd propositions,” the ACLU said in a statement announcing the lawsuit.

The lawsuit, filed in Orange County Superior Court on behalf of 11 shelter residents, alleges sexual abuse, rampant rodent and bedbug infestations, broken toilets and showers and extreme temperatures at the shelters.

It names Orange County and the city of Anaheim, which fund the shelters, and operators Illumination Foundation, Midnight Mission and Mercy House Living Centers & Protection America.

Read the full story on LATimes.com.

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