Sexual violence is a serious problem in the United States that affects millions of women, and also men. In fact, 1 in 5 women in the United States (and 1 in 59 men) have been raped in their lifetime, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most victims first experienced sexual violence before age 25.
But even these statistics underestimate the problem because many victims do not tell law enforcement officials, family or friends about the sexual violence, which is any sexual activity where consent is not freely given.
It’s the goal of “Sexual Assault Awareness Month,” observed each year in April, to call attention to sexual violence, and stop it before it begins.
The campaign is all too relevant at Chain | Cohn | Stiles, where local media has been covering several cases involving sexual assault represented by the law firm. For the various media videos and articles related to these sexual assault cases, scroll to the bottom of the page to the “Chain | Cohn | Stiles In the News” section.
SEXUAL ASSAULTS AT JUVENILE HALL
On Friday, March 27, Chain | Cohn | Stiles attorney Neil Gehlawat hosted a press conference following the filing of two claims against the County of Kern on behalf of two females who were sexually assaulted in separate incidents by Kern County Juvenile Corrections officers while the girls were housed at James G. Bowels Juvenile Hall.
Jane Doe 1 was housed at James G. Bowles Juvenile Hall from June 2014 through February 2015. While there, she enrolled in the Pathways Academy commitment program. Throughout September 2014, Kern County Corrections officer Cesar Holguin Navejar allegedly sexually assaulted her. When she reported the incident, supervisors initiated an administrative and criminal investigation. On Oct. 30, 2014, Navejar was arrested on suspicion of sexually assaulting Jane Doe 1. He is currently facing six felony charges including sexual battery, assault by a public officer and child molestation.
Jane Doe 2, who was also housed at James G. Bowels Juvenile Hall, was allegedly sexually assaulted by a different male Kern County Juvenile Corrections officer from September 2014 to January 2015. That suspect has been placed on administrative leave pending further investigation.
The case of Jane Doe 2 was revealed after yet another juvenile at the facility complained to authorities that the same suspect Jane Doe 2’s case attempted sexual assault of the victim. And it’s possible there are more victims, Gehlawat said.
“If there are other victims, we want to encourage those victims to come out and tell us what happened,” Gehlawat said on the “First Look with Scott Cox” show. “It can help further bring accountability to these officers.”
The cases also bring about questions about employment issues at the juvenile hall, including whether men should be supervising female inmates. Also, the suspect in Jane Doe 2’s case reportedly has a criminal history.
Gehlawat says that the purpose of these civil cases is to deter this behavior and create a change in the juvenile hall system.
Also during an appearance on “First Look with Scott Cox,” attorney Neil Gehlawat discussed the case of a 21-year-old Tehachapi woman who was sexually assaulted by an on-duty Kern County Sheriff’s deputy. Deputy Gabriel Lopez has been charged in that case. You can read about that case by clicking here.
* Editor’s Note: Neil Gehlawat is no longer an attorney with Chain | Cohn | Stiles *
If you are or someone you know is a victim of sexual violence, take the following steps:
- Contact the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE. Help is free, confidential and available all day, every day.
- Contact local authorities by calling 9-1-1.
CHAIN | COHN | STILES IN THE NEWS
Legal claims filed for girls allegedly sexually assaulted in Kern juvenile hall (KBAK-KBFX / CBS-Fox)
Two claims filed against Kern County in connection with alleged sexual assaults at Juvenile Hall (The Bakersfield Californian)
Attorney: There may be more victims of guards accused of sexual assault at Juvenile Hall (The Bakersfield Californian)
Attorney lays out sexual assault claims against juvenile hall officers (KBAK-KBFX / CBS-Fox)
Videos: ‘First Look’: More questions arise in alleged assaults at Juvenile Hall (The Bakersfield Californian, First Look with Scott Cox)
Neil Gehlawat hosts a press conference (Instagram)
Girls claim juvie guards sexually assaulted them (Courthouse News Service)