Lauren Kavanaugh aka “The Girl in the Closet” has been arrested and accused of sexually assaulting a teenage girl. Kavanaugh’s story of years of sexual abuse became national news when she was rescued from her mother and stepfather in Texas in 2001. Now, Kavanaugh, 25, is in the custody of Lewisville Police Department in Texas.
CBS Dallas-Fort Worth reports that cops received a tip on December 17 that a Kavanaugh had been sexually abusing a 14-year-old. That child allegedly told officers that she had been in a “sexual relationship” with Kavanaugh.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Kavanaugh Had Been Living With the Victim’s Family
Kavanaugh had been living with the victim and the victim’s family, reports WFAA. The station says, citing police documents, that Kavanaugh admitted to assaulting the child. Kavanaugh said that she met the victim via Kavanaugh’s Facebook page.
CBS Dallas-Fort Worth reports that Kavanaugh lived in an apartment with the victim and her family. The station adds in their report that after cops made contact with the victim’s family, they obtained her parents’ permission to conduct a forensic interview.
2. Kavanaugh’s Facebook Page Is Designed to Help Those Who Have Also Suffered Abuse
Kavanaugh’s Facebook page is named, The Lauren Kavanaugh Story. The profiled was designed to offer help to other victims of sexual abuse. After this story was published, Kavanaugh’s Facebook page was deleted. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram quotes Captain Jesse Hunter of the Lewisville Police Department as saying authorities had nothing to do with the deletion of the page. Denton’s case captured national attention in June 2001 when the abuse she suffered at home in Hutchins, Texas, was made public. When Kavanaugh was found by police she was 8 years old and weighed 25 pounds. She had been forced to live in a 4-by-8 foot closet. Investigators thought at the time that Kavanaugh had been abused for most of her life. Kavanaugh has said in subsequent interviews that she was abused between the ages of 2 and 6.
3. Kavanaugh’s Adoptive Mother Said She Hoped Kavanaugh’s Stepfather Would Be Sexually Abused in Prison
In 2002, Kavanaugh’s stepfather, Kenneth Atkinson, 35, was sentenced to life in prison for the abuse suffered by Kavanaugh. A few months previously, Barbara Atkinson, Kavanaugh’s biological mother was sentenced to life in prison for her role in the abuse. The pair will be eligible for parole in 2031.
During the trial, Kavanaugh’s half-sibling testified about the abuse that Kavanaugh suffered. That sibling said that Kavanaugh was locked away in a closet for most of the day. The sibling said that the other children in the home were told not to tell anyone about the abuse Kavanaugh suffered. A doctor who testified in the case said that Kavanaugh had been sexually abused so badly that she required surgery.
Prosecutor Mark Moffitt said in his closing statement that Kenneth Atkinson’s crime was “worse than murder.” While defense attorney, Malcolm Dade, said that Atkinson had cared for five other children in the home and that it was Atkinson that told neighbors about Kavanaugh, which led to her being discovered, reported CBS News in 2002. A different prosecutor Patricia Hogue countered saying, “He didn’t save her life, he prolonged her death… He slowly, methodically, daily, consistently starved that child near death.” The other children who lived in the home with Kavanaugh had lice and tooth decay.
Sabrina Kavanaugh, Kavanaugh’s adoptive mother, told the court before Atkinson’s sentencing that she hoped Atkinson would sexually abused in prison so that he could feel what Lauren Kavanaugh suffered. Sabrina added that she believed Atkinson was “sadistic and evil.” The Dallas Morning News reports that Kavanaugh had been adopted by Sabrina and Bill Kavanaugh, but they lost her to her birth mother on a “legal technicality.”
4. Kavanaugh Said She Has Tried to Commit Suicide ‘Over 30 Times’
In January 2017, Kavanaugh told Dr. Phil McGraw in an appearance on his show, “My life’s been pretty hard. I’ve been struggling a lot. I hardly sleep anymore. My anxiety is terrible. I’ve tried to commit suicide over 30 times. Sometimes I have flashbacks about my past, my childhood. Sometimes when I have flashbacks, it’s of [my parents] beating me… I could not get out, no matter what I did. It was always dark. I didn’t get fed. I didn’t get to eat. I had to go to the bathroom in the closet, where I slept.”
Kavanaugh later said that her mother would bring home men and women to sexually abuse her. Kavanaugh said, “My parents thought it was hilarious for them to watch. And I had to do what they said, so I could stay alive.” In another instance, Kavanaugh said that her stepfather would put a gun to her head and pretend to shoot her. On the same episode, Officer Gary McClain talked about discovering Kavanaugh saying, “Her skin was peeling due to laying in her own feces. Lauren’s matted hair reminded me of a rat’s nest. The closet where Lauren had been kept, it smelled horribly. We found what appeared to be chew marks or teeth marks on the inside of the closet door handle. I haven’t ever run across anything like this.”
5. Authorities Say There Could Be Other Victims in the Case
Kavanaugh is being held at Denton County Jail on a $10,0000 bond. WFAA reports that police believe that there may be other victims. Anyone with any information about Kavanaugh’s case is asked to call 972-21908477.