Public Safety

Former Four Oaks youth counselor accused of harboring runaways

Noreda El
Noreda El

NORTH LIBERTY — A former Four Oaks youth counselor is accused of harboring three runaways from the facility.

North Liberty police said Noreda A. El, 34, left the Four Oaks Marion facility May 6 with three boys — ages 12, 15 and 16 — who had been placed in the facility and took them home with her.

Police said El did not return the boys to Four Oaks. A Facebook video appeared to show juveniles smoking marijuana in El’s home, police said.

El was arrested early Wednesday and faces three counts each of harboring a runaway, an aggravated misdemeanor, and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Debbie Craig, Four Oaks chief advocacy officer, said the organization is cooperating with investigators.

Craig said El was employed by Four Oaks for a “short period.”

“Four Oaks has zero tolerance for any misconduct by employees, and we take very seriously our responsibility to keep those we serve safe,” Craig said in an email to The Gazette.

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“All staff go through a comprehensive background check and fingerprinting before they are hired and also receive training regarding healthy boundaries.”

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El’s arrest follows the July 10 arrest of former Four Oaks youth counselor Danielle V. Hook, 29, formerly of Marion.

A criminal complaint alleges Hook had sexual contact with a teenager from July 2017 through Nov. 30, 2018, and again on Jan. 10, 2019.

Hook also is accused of harboring the boy when he was 15, around Feb. 11, 2019.

Investigators in that case learned Hook gave birth to the teen’s child.

Hook faces charges of third-degree sexual abuse, sex exploitation by a counselor and harboring a runaway.

She faces up to 17 years in prison, including a mandatory five-year sentence on the sex exploitation charge.

Comments: (319) 339-3155; lee.hermiston@thegazette.com

Gazette reporter Trish Mehaffey contributed to this report.

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