Boot camp for troubled youth is a place where parents send their teenagers to be disciplined. Not to be beat up.
But two instructors, Edgar Alvarado, 36, and Ruben Romero, 21, at an East Los Angeles-based juvenille boot camp, 180 Degree Recon, have been arrested for allegedly hitting, kicking and dragging youth, ABC reports. Some of the teenagers allegedly had to go to the hospital with serious life-threatening injuries.
The two men were arrested on suspicion of abusing 11 juveniles -- nine male and two female -- between the ages of 12 and 17, the LA Sheriff's Department announced Wednesday. One of the girls also alleged that she was inappropriately touched by Alvarado.
The investigation into the camp began a year ago when one teenager allegedly went to the hospital with serious internal injuries, CBS reports. During the investigation, nine boys and two girls came forward saying they were also beaten, police said.
“Any assault on a child is serious but this definitely rose to the level of a felony,” Scott said to CBS of the hospitalized camper.
Alvarado is charged with three felony counts of causing great bodily injury on a child, one felony count of corporal injury on a child and one felony count of sexual battery. He is being held in lieu of $480,000 bail and is scheduled to appear in court March 28.
Romero faces three misdemeanor battery charges and is out on bail.
The camp kidnaps kids from their homes in the middle of the night, with consent of the parents. According to its website, the "paramilitary" program begins with “breaking [campers] down in order to build them back up." Kids who go there may have a bad attitude, bad grades, use drugs or exhibit violent or disrespectful behavior. Recon 180 is supposed to give teenagers a 180-degree turn in their lives and instill some “good old-fashioned morals,” the site says.
"This isn't a scared straight [SIC]. This is abuse. These kids were seriously injured and this type of stuff needs to stop," LASD Sgt. Dan Scott told ABC.
Detectives believe there may be more victims out there and are asking anyone with information to come forward.
Last year, a boot camp run by the LAPD came under fire when a video emerged of officers taunting kids; one child in the video appears to be only about five or six years old.
In 2011, a disturbing video (watch below) at a teen boot camp in Pasadena emerged of instructors screaming at a young boy as he was forced to hold a heavy car tire. The boy was brought to his knees as he cried and was terrorized by four adults. Separately, the operator of the camp, Kelvin "Sgt. Mac" McFarland, was charged in March with sexual penetration by a foreign object, forcible rape and oral copulation of two 14-year-old girls.