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Years After Her Own Ordeal, 'The Girl In The Closet' Arrested For Sexually Assaulting Teen Girl

Lauren Kavanaugh attracted national headlines as "the Girl in the Closet" after she was rescued in 2001 from her mother's mobile home in Texas, where she had been forced to live in a closet for six years while being starved and sexually abused.

By Sharon Lynn Pruitt

A woman who 17 years ago became known as “The Girl in the Closet” after enduring years of abuse that included being forced to live in a closet as a child, was arrested earlier this week and charged with the sexual assault of a child.

Police in Lewisville, Texas arrested Lauren Kavanaugh, now 25, after receiving a tip on Monday claiming that she had sexually assaulted a 14-year-old girl, police said in a press release.

The child in question told the authorities that she’d been in a “sexual relationship” with Kavanaugh for the last two months.

Kavanaugh, who had been living in an apartment with the victim's parents at the time of the alleged abuse, admitted during an interview with detectives to having a “sexual relationship” with the child, prompting her arrest, police said.

She was charged with sexually assaulting a child and booked on Wednesday at the Denton County Jail, where she remains in custody on $10,000 bail, online jail records state.

Kavanaugh made national headlines in 2001 when authorities rescued her from her mother and stepfather’s mobile home in Hutchins, Texas. From the age of two, she had been starved, abused, molested and forced to live in a tiny closet, the Dallas Morning-News reports.

When she was rescued at 8 years old, she was severely malnourished, weighing only 25 pounds.

It was Kavanaugh's trauma that seems to have connected her to her alleged victim. She met the child through a Facebook page called “The Lauren Kavanaugh Story,” a resource that Kavanaugh used to support other victims of abuse, police said. The page has since been taken down.

Kavanaugh’s abusers — her mother, Barbara Atkinson, and stepfather, Kenneth Atkinson — were both sentenced to life in prison.

She went on to be adopted by Bill and Sabrina Kavanaugh a year after her rescue, according to the Morning-News.

The couple had previously adopted the child soon after she was born, but were forced to give her back to her birth mother when she was 20 months old because of what they called a legal “technicality,” ABC News reports. The abuse began soon after.

Kavanaugh most recently shared her tragic story during an episode of “The Dr. Phil Show” last year, where she revealed that she’d tried to kill herself “more than 30 times.” In pursuit of living a “normal life,” she’s battled with substance abuse, depression and anxiety, she said.

Police have reason to believe that Kavanaugh may have had other victims. They are urging parents to talk with their children to find out if they’ve had inappropriate contact with Kavanaugh, and to contact the Lewisville Police Department if so.

General tips about the case can be reported by calling the department’s tip line at 972-219- 8477, or by texting them anonymously to “TIPLPD” at 847411.

[Photo Credit: Denton County Jail]

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