OAKLAND -- Outraged relatives of a severely autistic 16-year-old girl found badly beaten Thursday night in San Francisco, two days after she left an Oakland group home, said they want the home shut down.
The teen was spotted by a Muni bus driver in San Francisco about 8 p.m. Thursday, police said. The driver wasn't aware she was missing but said she was the only one on the bus, and he called police because he was concerned about her.
She was badly beaten, and family members have said she was also sexually assaulted. Police would not comment on whether the girl had been sexually assaulted.
The teen walked off about 7 p.m. Tuesday from the Fred Finch Youth Center at 3800 Coolidge Ave. in East Oakland.
The teen's mother, Shandra Pullar, said the home did not notify her or any family members until 9:30 a.m. Wednesday. Fred Finch officials have declined to comment on when family was notified.
"I'm very, very upset. She's alive, but she went through a lot, and she is going to be going through a lot (in the future)," Pullar said. "I don't want anyone to ever put their kids there."
The state Department of Social Services has opened an investigation into the incident, said department spokesman Michael Weston. He said officials at Fred Finch had reported the runaway incident to the state, as required by law. .
The teen is now staying with relatives in the Bay Area, and police investigators will interview her when she is physically able, police said Friday. Police have not identified any suspects in the case.
The teen has the mental capacity of a 7-year-old, said Pullar, who traveled to the Bay Area on Thursday from her home in Washington.
Pullar and other family members are outraged that, when the teen walked out of the center Tuesday night, two staff members -- one on foot and one in a car -- followed her for about two miles but then lost sight of her at Fruitvale BART, and she slipped away.
"These people need to be shut down," said the teen's aunt, Christine McDonald, in an email.
Fred Finch is licensed by the Department of Social Services and by law is not allowed to lock the youth center, said center CEO Tom Alexander.
"It is against the law to put a youngster behind any kind of a lock, whether that be a locked room or behind a locked fence or gate. The facilities are open," Alexander said.
Alexander said the social services department advises staff members not to restrain youngsters who are in their care in public.
"We have the capacity to do that, but the reality is we do that at absolutely a last resort," he said. "Our standard operating procedure is when a youngster is out in the community, we don't restrain them."
The family is also upset about a delay in a police report.
Police said they took a report at 12:54 a.m. and alerted other law enforcement agencies about the missing at-risk teen. After no leads from the notification, police alerted the media about 8 p.m. the next night, and the story and girl's picture were broadcast. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children also posted the girl's picture online.
Alexander said he did not know what time police were originally called.
The girl's father, Jesse White, who lives in Southern California, said his daughter has severe behavioral problems because of the developmental disability and had been at the center for about six months.
Fred Finch is a 14-bed facility for youngsters ages 12 to 18 with development disabilities and other issues. The average stay is 18 to 36 months, Alexander said.
Weston said the home's last annual state inspection was in May and the home continues to operate under a license that was established in March 1993.
According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, an estimated 800,000 children are reported missing each year -- more than 2,000 children every day.
A reward of $5,000 is being offered for information leading to an arrest of suspects in the case. Anyone with information should call the Oakland Police Department at 510-238-3641 or 510-637-0298.