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Huntington Park officer found not guilty of abusing youth at Camp SLO boot camp 

A Huntington Park Police officer accused of emotionally and physically abusing children at a disciplinary boot camp at Camp SLO was found not guilty by a jury Dec. 12.

click to enlarge NOT GUILTY On Dec. 12, Huntington Police Department officer Marissa Elizabeth Larios was acquitted of multiple charges of child abuse in connection with her role at a disciplinary boot camp held at Camp SLO in 2015. - FILE PHOTO
  • File Photo
  • NOT GUILTY On Dec. 12, Huntington Police Department officer Marissa Elizabeth Larios was acquitted of multiple charges of child abuse in connection with her role at a disciplinary boot camp held at Camp SLO in 2015.

Marissa Elizabeth Larios, a detective with the Huntington Park Police Department, faced multiple misdemeanor charges in connection with her role at the Leadership Empowerment and Discipline (LEAD) boot camp, a program for at-risk youth run by the Huntington Park and South Gate police departments held at Camp San Luis Obispo. She and two other officers were accused of allegedly abusing camp participants during a 2015 session of the camp.

The not guilty verdict came after a two-week trial in SLO County Superior Court, which featured testimony by investigators and some of the alleged victims. Had she been convicted, Larios could have faced up to 18 months in SLO County Jail.

While SLO County prosecutors accused Larios of physically abusing some of the camp's participants, including one 14-year-old female who claimed she was grabbed by the throat and another who said she was left in handcuffs for an extended period of time, the officer's attorney argued that whatever force she used, if any, was justified and within the law.

"[Larios] has dealt with situations like these," defense attorney Michael Schwartz told jurors during his Nov. 30 opening statement, adding that parents of the camp attendees were aware that their children would be subjected to "military" and "law enforcement"-style tactics.

"These parents were told up front what kind of camp this would be," Schwartz said.

Prior to the trial, Schwartz successfully petitioned the court to separate Larios' case from that of South Gate Police Department officers Carlos Gomez-Marquez and Edgar Gomez, who also worked at the camp and were accused of abusing participants. The allegations against both officers, who are brothers, included claims that they stomped on the hands of and punched the young participants. Both brothers pleaded no contest to several of the charges against them in August, and were sentenced to 60 days in county jail and four years of probation.

Larios remains employed with the Huntington Park Police Department, but the LEAD boot camp has since been suspended.


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