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Inmate Sues CYA Over Sexual Molestation

Courts: Woman, 21, is seeking damages for pain and anguish in her federal civil rights suit. Her attacker, an instructor, was sentenced to prison last year.

February 03, 2000|DAVID ROSENZWEIG | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A 21-year-old woman filed a federal civil rights lawsuit Wednesday charging that she was molested repeatedly by a male instructor and a guard while in custody at the California Youth Authority's Ventura School in Camarillo.

The woman, who has since been transferred to Humboldt County, charged that she was coerced into posing in pornographic videos made by former instructor Bradley Gardner.

Gardner was sentenced to 52 months in prison last year after pleading guilty in Ventura Superior Court to sexually assaulting two female wards, including the woman who sued him Wednesday.

Also named as defendants in the federal lawsuit were three former CYA administrators who were ousted for ignoring abuses at the facility.

The CYA ward is seeking unspecified monetary damages for severe emotional distress and anguish.

The 732-bed Ventura School, the state's only coed youth prison, has been the focus of controversy since 1997, when state legislators accused the CYA of covering up rapes of inmates by guards.

Fifteen employees were fired or resigned. Six cases were referred to the Ventura County district attorney for prosecution, but only Gardner was charged with a crime.

According to her suit, which was filed in Los Angeles, the woman was 16 when she was committed to the CYA facility in Camarillo and assigned to take a film production class taught by Gardner.

Soon afterward, the lawsuit said, Gardner coerced her into regularly engaging with him in kissing, fondling and oral copulation.

He arranged for her to be reassigned from her regular high school program so she could become his full-time teaching assistant, "essentially turning her into his full-time concubine," according to the lawsuit.

Using CYA video equipment, the suit said, Gardner made at least five pornographic movies involving the young woman. Her attorney, Stewart Katz of Sacramento, said Wednesday that Gardner later erased the tapes but acknowledged having made them.

The woman also accused Timothy McCarthy, a former guard at the CYA facility, of coercing her to engage with him in oral copulation, kissing and fondling.

According to the suit, McCarthy learned about Gardner's sexual activities with the ward and used his position to obtain sex from her.

McCarthy was fired after a probe in 1998, the lawsuit said. He was not prosecuted.

Also named as defendants in the suit are the school's former superintendent, Mary Herrera; former Assistant Supt. Chuck Kubasek; and former security chief James McDuffy. They were accused of providing Gardner and McCarthy with "unimpeded access to the young female wards" and covering up the sexual exploitation.

Herrera and McDuffy have been demoted and reassigned while Kubasek has retired, a CYA spokesman said Wednesday.

Efforts to contact Herrera, Kubasek, McDuffy and McCarthy were unsuccessful.

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