Invisible Children

Rachel L., Jonathan L., and Mary Grace L.

Content note: Case narratives include descriptions of severe violence inflicted on children, including abuse and neglect, sexual violence, torture, and murder, as well as mentions of suicide and domestic violence. They also include photos of victims and perpetrators of violence.

At age 14, Rachel contacted police saying she had run away from home. When questioned by the Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS), she said her father beat her with a stick, hanger, or shoe, that she suffered from depression but was not allowed to get help, and that she had been sexually abused by a family friend, Leonard C., but her parents had refused to believe her and she was worried he would start abusing her younger sister. Rachel’s parents, Philip and Mary L., homeschooled their children. The family had had  prior contact with DCFS: In 1987 daughter Cam (Rachel’s stepsister) was hospitalized due to Philip’s brutal abuse (as a result, she was sent to live with her mother); in 1989, daughter Charity was found to have suffered sexual abuse (Leonard C. was a person of interest); in 1993 the home was found to be filthy and contain 60 unsecured rifles and/or assault weapons (DCFS oversaw the family until this was resolved); and in 2001 daughter Elizabeth ran away because her father physically abused her (she spent the rest of her childhood in foster care). When DCFS investigated Rachel’s allegations, her parents denied any knowledge of any sexual abuse. They and their remaining minor children, Jonathan and Mary Grace, collectively denied that Philip had ever hit any of the children. Philip later changed his position, stating that he beat Rachel with a back scratcher when she was rebellious. During the investigation, Philip turned Jonathan and Mary Grace against their court appointed lawyer. The court found that Philip dominated his wife and children, and that each time a child opposed his control (Cam, Elizabeth, and now Rachel), the result was physical abuse from their father and no protection from their mother; that the Philip and Mary did not protect their children from sexual abuse; and that Philip was dishonest with investigators while Rachel was forthright. Based on these findings, Jonathan and Mary Grace’s lawyer petitioned for them to be sent to school for the protection they would gain from daily contact with mandatory reporters. Philip objected, claiming a right to homeschool.

Date: January 26, 2006
Location: Los Angeles County, California

Documents: Date:
In re Rachel L. v. Philip L. 2007-11-20
In re Rachel L. v. Superior Court of the State of California 2008-02-28
Jonathan L. 2008-08-08