April 25, 2017
A Los Angeles area mother of three has lived with many years of sexual violence—not from a boyfriend, a husband, a family member, or even a stranger—but from her parole officer. However, California law prohibits her from suing her attacker and the probation office that allegedly did nothing to stop the assaults. Read more about this story.
Kim Adams was repeatedly and brutally sexually assaulted by her probation officer. She has spent more than a year fighting for the right to seek damages from the attacker and from the Kern County Probation Office. Adams claims that the probation office helped to cover up the abuse. Her petition to sue has been repeatedly denied because of a California law that, in effect, silences victims of sexual abuse.
Undeterred, Adams will now bring a lawsuit in federal court. She’s asking for damages for civil rights violations. Her lawsuit claims that her now-former parole officer, Reyes Soberon, took advantage of his position as her parole officer to call her to the probation office to assault her.
“I believe he used his power and his authority to do this to me constantly,” Adams said.
Abuse by the Kern County Probation Officer Alleged Over Three Years
The abuse by the Kern County probation officer occurred over a three-year period, from 2012 to 2015, at which time Adams was on probation for burglary. In one example detailed in Adams’ lawsuit, Soberon sexually assaulted Adams in her home in front of her disabled son who has cerebral palsy.
In addition to the physical assaults at the probation office and at home, Soberon sent texts to Adams, calling her “baby doll” and “sexy mamacita.”
Further, the parole officer threatened Adams by saying that he’d place her in jail for the rest of her life if she refused his sexual advances, the lawsuit states. Adams says she even received death threats from him.
Adams’ lawsuit also claims that several officials at the probation office knew about Soberon’s behavior and tried to discourage Adams from making a report about the sexual assaults. When Adams finally made a complaint with the probation office, Kern County continued to allow Soberon to serve as her parole officer. Her lawsuit says that she lived in “constant fear, believing that Soberon was free to continue molesting her.”
Investigation of the Sexual Assault by the Probation Officer
Sorberon was subsequently placed on paid leave while he was being investigated by the Probation Department for misconduct. He plead guilty in his 2016 criminal trial to Adams’ claims of sexual abuse, as well as to sexually abusing two other victims. The parole officer accepted a plea deal imposing just an 180-day jail sentence. He was also required to register as a sex offender.
After the sentencing, Adams told reporters. “Not an hour of the day goes by that I’m not haunted by the memory of what he did to me.”
Adams’ Right to Launch a Civil Claim
Sorberon’s light sentence for his sexual misconduct only was compounded by the fact that Adams previously was denied a right to bring a civil claim against him and Kern County. In California, a plaintiff has a deadline for filing a claim against the government no later than six months after the incident. Adams missed that deadline by two months. At the time, she didn’t have legal counsel and didn’t know about the time limit. In addition, her current attorney says she wasn’t given a victim’s advocate during the criminal investigation. Plus, a psychologist testified that Adams was suffering from PTSD. This kept her from filing her petition within the timeframe or doing anything that reminded her of her of the sexual assaults by the probation officer.
The state court denied an exception to the rule, and she is suing in federal court.
“Honestly, I haven’t been on probation, I have been sexually assaulted, that’s not probation,” Adams said.
At the Cifarelli Law Firm, we make it our mission to hold the perpetrators of sexual abuse accountable for their actions, like this probation officer and the county probation office in southern California. The compensation we have been able to obtain for our victims will never replace what was lost, but it will help in recovering towards a better life.
Call us today to arrange for a free consultation to discuss your situation with a professional and compassionate Cifarelli Law attorney at (949) 502-8600.