UPDATE: The accused pleaded not guilty this morning, Orange County Register reports.
A 27-year-old Lake Elsinore man was being arraigned in Santa Ana this morning for the alleged sexual assault of a then-17-year-old female
resident he was providing therapy to as a group counselor at the Orangewood Children's Home in Orange.
Abner Z. Avila
could get up to four years and four months in state prison if he is convicted of the three felony counts of sexual penetration by foreign
object of a minor he has been charged with. The Orange County District Attorney's Office statement on the case follows after the jump . . .
September 9, 2010
FORMER COUNSELOR AT THE ORANGEWOOD CHILDREN'S HOME TO BE ARRAIGNED FOR
SEXUALLY ASSAULTING 17-YEAR-OLD FEMALE WHILE PROVIDING VICTIM THERAPY
SANTA ANA – A former counselor at The Orangewood Children's Home will be
arraigned tomorrow for sexually assaulting a then-17-year-old female
resident to whom he provided therapy. Abner Z. Avila, 27, Lake Elsinore,
is charged with three felony counts of sexual penetration by foreign
object of a minor. If convicted, the defendant faces a maximum sentence
of four years and four months in state prison. Avila is out of custody
and is scheduled to be arraigned tomorrow, Sept. 10, 2010, at 8:30 a.m.
in Department C-55, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.
Beginning on Oct. 10, 2007, Avila is accused of counseling
then-17-year-old victim, Jane Doe, while she was a resident at The
Orangewood Children's Home (Orangewood) located in the City of Orange.
Orangewood is Orange County's only shelter for children who have been
removed from their caretakers and placed in protective custody by police
or protective services. Some of the resident children have been
neglected or physically, sexually, or emotionally abused. Avila is
accused of sexually assaulting Jane Doe on three occasions.
Between Oct. 10, 2007, and March 1, 2008, Avila is accused of sexually
assaulting Jane Doe by digitally penetrating the victim and having her
masturbate him in a common room within Orangewood where toys are kept.
Between Oct. 10, 2007, and March 1, 2008, Avila is accused sexually
assaulting Jane Doe on a second occasion in his car after driving Jane
Doe to her court-ordered drug test appointment and then buying her fast
food in Orange. The defendant is accused of digitally penetrating the
victim and having Jane Doe masturbate him while inside his parked car.
Between May 1, 2008, and May 16, 2008, Avila is accused of driving and
picking up Jane Doe at her foster home, after she was no longer a
resident at Orangewood. The defendant is accused of sexually assaulting
the victim a third time by digitally penetrating the victim inside his
car while parked outside her foster home. Avila is also accused of
having Jane Doe masturbate him on the same occasion.
In May 2008, a former resident of Orangewood reported the defendant's
conduct towards Jane Doe to the Orange County Sheriff's Department.
Avila was arrested on May 17, 2008, while working at Orangewood. Upon
further investigation, the District Attorney filed charges June 18,
Anyone with additional information or who believes they have been a
victim is encouraged to contact Supervising District Attorney
Investigator Randy Litwin at (714) 347-8794.
Deputy District Attorney Jess Rodriguez of the Sexual Assault Unit is prosecuting this case.