“Girl in the Closet” Lauren Kavanaugh faces an additional charge of harassment of a public servant after she spit in a jailer’s mouth while she is locked up on sexual assault of a child charges, according to court records obtained Tuesday by The Dallas Morning News.
Kavanaugh, 26, was charged last month and remains in the Denton County Jail, where she has been since her arrest in December. She was indicted in February on three counts of sexually assaulting a child after she admitted having a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old girl.
Kavanaugh’s attorney could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday.
In the new case, court records show, Kavanaugh is accused of spitting on detention Officer Shannon O’Hara’s face and in her mouth, according to an arrest warrant affidavit signed May 20. The jailer also said Kavanaugh hit her on the arm but did not cause pain.
The incident was captured on video, the affidavit says.
“I observed Officer O’Hara walk in front of Ms. Kavanaugh’s assigned cell,” Denton County Deputy Gabriel Maldonado wrote after watching the video. “I observed Officer O’Hara react as if she was being spit on.”
As a child, Kavanaugh was the victim of horrific abuse at the hands of her mother and stepfather. They sexually abused, starved and locked her in a filthy closet in their trailer in Hutchins, just south of Dallas. The Dallas Morning News told her story in an eight-part series titled ”The Girl in the Closet.”
Her mother and stepfather, Barbara and Kenneth Atkinson, are serving life sentences in Texas prisons. They are eligible for parole in 2031.
The Denton County Sheriff’s Office, which charged Kavanaugh in the new case, did not respond to a request for comment. A spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office said prosecutors were not aware of the new charge until contacted by The News.
Kavanaugh has not been indicted in the harassment case.
Facebook conversation tipped off authorities
A sexually explicit Facebook conversation led police to question Kavanaugh and approach the girl’s family about the allegations.
The girl and Kavanaugh met through a Facebook fan page, “The Lauren Kavanaugh Story,” which has since been disabled.
Lewisville police learned of the Facebook conversations in December after the social media company contacted the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Facebook’s monitoring software detected a suspicious interaction between an adult and child. The center reported the possible crime to Lewisville police.
Lewisville police Detective Bryan Gibbins wrote in the arrest warrant affidavit that he contacted the teen’s mother Dec. 17 about the online conversations and asked her to bring her daughter to the Children’s Advocacy Center for Denton County for an interview, court records show.
The records don’t indicate when Kavanaugh and the girl began communicating — first on Facebook and then via text. But they stopped talking in October 2017 when Kavanaugh moved, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.
But last year, Kavanaugh returned to North Texas, reconnected with the girl and moved in with her family, the affidavit says. They lived in an extended stay motel in Lewisville.
The girl detailed sex acts between her and Kavanaugh, including the night before Kavanaugh’s Dec. 17 arrest, according to the affidavit.
On the same day the girl was interviewed at the Children’s Advocacy Center, Gibbins went to the motel, told Kavanaugh he was a police officer and asked if she would talk with him at the police station, the affidavit says. She agreed.
‘If you’re going to arrest me, arrest me!’
At first, Kavanaugh told Gibbins that she and the girl were “just friends,” the affidavit says.
Then, Gibbins told her that he had a transcript of their sexually explicit chat.
“I asked Lauren if that was true and after sitting quietly for a while, Lauren looked up at me and said ‘yes,’” Gibbins wrote in the arrest warrant affidavit. “Lauren also said that was the only time and that she was sorry and learned her lesson.”
He then asked Kavanaugh whether there were other times she and the girl were “involved sexually,” and she became upset.
“If you’re going to arrest me, arrest me!” she responded, according to the affidavit.
Kavanaugh then said she didn’t want to talk anymore.
Kavanaugh faces up to 20 years in prison on each sexual assault of a child charge if she is convicted. The harassment of a public servant charge carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison.
She is jailed in lieu of $12,500 bail.