State officials are investigating charges that drug, sex and theft rings operated out of a San Diego home for troubled youths, according to wire service reports Saturday.
Officials of the House of Hope, located in the 5100 block of Hilltop Drive in eastern San Diego, have denied the charges.
On Thursday, state officials ordered that the House of Hope be closed pending the completion of the investigation, United Press International reported.
All of the youths have been moved to other facilities, UPI said.
“All I can say is the allegation is not true,” said a person who answered the House of Hope’s telephone Saturday and identified herself as a clerk for the facility. “I know they are all lies. It’s a personal vendetta.” She refused to give her name or any details of the charges.
The clerk said home director Mamie Thomas was in Los Angeles on Saturday to confer with her attorney, James M. Sisson. Neither Thomas nor Sisson could be reached Saturday. Sisson is expected to issue a statement Monday or Tuesday, the clerk said.
In an order suspending the home’s operating license, state Department of Social Service authorities charged that the youths at the home were involved in drug trafficking, burglaries and other crimes and that some employees helped plan the crimes, UPI said.
The suspension order alleges that two male employees were involved in drug trafficking, sexual abuse, planning burglaries or auto thefts and selling stolen goods.
Officials said most of the youths in the homes were from Orange County, UPI said.
The first serious problems came to light at the home in 1980 when a male employee was charged with sexually molesting a young girl in his care, UPI said.
Charges against the employee were dropped for insufficient evidence, however, authorities said.
House of Hope was licensed in 1976 to care for 12 girls aged 12 to 18 at one eastern San Diego site, and in 1979, was licensed to care for 10 boys aged 8 to 17 at another location a few blocks away.