LEWISVILLE, Texas - The woman known as “The Girl in the Closet” who was recently arrested for the sexual assault of a child had been living in a hotel room with that 14-year-old girl, court documents reveal.
The newly released arrest warrant affidavit for 25-year-old Lauren Kavanaugh details how she met her alleged victim and how police were tipped off to the crime.
As a child, Kavanagh endured years of physical and sexual abuse by her family in the late 1990s through 2001 and was kept in a closet inside the family trailer. She was finally freed at the age of 8 and weighed about 25 pounds when she was located.
The affidavit for Kavanaugh’s arrest states Facebook forwarded a conversation between her and the teen to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.
In the message, the teen told Kavanaugh she wanted to return home to their hotel room for cuddles. The message was sexual in nature and included other things Kavanaugh said she wanted to do to the girl in the shower.
“My teacher is the same age as you,” the girl said, also referring to Kavanaugh as her girlfriend.
After receiving the tip, Lewisville police called the girl’s mother and asked to interview her at the Children’s Advocacy Center for Denton County. There she admitted to the relationship and said she initially met Kavanaugh through her Facebook fan page called The Lauren Kavanaugh Story.
The two communicated on Facebook and later via text messages. The communication stopped for a year because Kavanaugh moved away, but it resumed when she returned to Texas over the summer.
The affidavit states Kavanaugh contacted the girl and ended up moving in with her and her mom at the Budget Suites of American in Lewisville.
When police questioned Kavanaugh about her relationship with the girl, she at first claimed they were just friends. She admitted to the crime and got upset after investigators brought up the sexually explicit Facebook messages.
“If you’re going to arrest me, arrest me!” Kavanaugh said, according to the document.
She was then placed in handcuffs and escorted to the Lewisville jail.
John Browning is an attorney who studies social media and the law. He says Facebook and other social networking companies have gotten more proactive in identifying and reporting behavior and removed more than 8 million child exploitation posts last year.
“I think they're to be applauded for what they are doing and the steps that they're taking,” he said. “They've been very vigilant about that as a means of just being good, responsible corporate citizens.”
Browning says Facebook is continuing to invest in artificial intelligence, which could make the company even more vigilant in reporting this behavior.
“Facebook will be the first one to tell you that while they value their user privacy and they guard it, sometimes very zealously, there are certain things that sometimes outweigh even that,” he said.
Kavanaugh is still being held in the Denton County jail on a $10,000 bond. Her Facebook fan page has since been deleted.
Her parents are also in prison serving a life sentence for the abuse she endured.