Young girls are staying in a shelter contracted with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services for domestic minor sex trafficking victims who have been abused and re-trafficked by agents. staff at that very shelter, according to a Thursday report by the Texas Tribune.
Refugee Farm is located on a 50-acre site in B Carpet, Tex., about 30 miles east of the state capital city, Austin. It is run by a nonprofit called The Refuge for DMST™ (short for “Domestic Juvenile Sex Trafficking”), and website describes how girls are provided with “trauma informed, comprehensive care” that includes education through a charter school run by the University of Texas, medical care, psychiatric services and “Variety of therapy programs are uniquely designed for the development of a surviving child. “The site also lists many”partner“Including corporate sponsors, churches and other nonprofit organizations, and government partners such as the B Carpet County Sheriff’s Office and the Office of the Governor of Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott (R-TX).
The Refugee Ranch “is the largest, permanent rehabilitation facility for child sex trafficking survivors in the United States,” the website says.
It is also where seven girls, aged between 11 and 17 years old, were allegedly abused by a total of nine Refugee Organization employees – and were not removed from the facility for more than a month after abuse is reported for the first time.
According to the Texas Tribune, a current Refugee officer reported to state authorities on January 24 that these children were “sexually and physically abused and subjected to negligent supervision and neglect.” medical” at the facility – but the court and foster care system appointed by the judge were not notified until Thursday.
Referee Janis Graham Jack of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas convened an emergency hearing that same day. Jack is also the same judge who presided over a class-action lawsuit against Texas DFPS that found the state’s foster care system unconstitutional in 2015 and fined and ordered substantial reforms, including the appointment of a supervisory team to monitor compliance with her orders.
At one point in 2019 Jack threatened to put state officials in jail and fine the state $50,000 per day for not providing round-the-clock supervision for children in large group homes. Many foster care facilities have been closed, according to San Antonio Express-Newsbecause even the DFPS commissioners admit they have been “unsafe for decades.” Ongoing problems; Court supervision is reported at least 23 children died while licensed by the Texas government for foster care facilities and facilities between the summer of 2019 and May 2021.
At Thursday’s hearing, Jack reviewed a letter sent earlier in the day from DFPS informing the court of the Refugee staff’s January 24 report that a former employee had been charged. forced two of the girls to pose for nude photos, then sold the photos and used the money to buy alcohol and drugs that were given to children at The Refuge.
DFPS Associate Commissioner for Child Protection Investigations Richman Rich told the court that investigators believed the alleged abuser had been fired and no longer had access to the children, as an explanation for why the children were not removed from the home immediately instantly.
However, it seems the problem isn’t just with a single employee, nor is it just a matter of photos. The DFPS letter describes nine employees believed to be involved in the alleged abuse of a total of seven girls at The Refuge, with reports of abuse coming through eight separate phone calls to the reporting hotline. of the state.
Furthermore, not only are a number of other employees accused of abuse still employed at The Refuge, “many of them are related by blood or marriage and/or cohabiting,” according to the letter. of DFPS.
Judge Jack criticized DFPS for not acting faster to respond to the initial report of abuse and even more for not immediately removing the children from Refugee custody. , which she describes as an additional system failure, according to Austin Chinese American hearing report.
Jack said: “This is appalling and disrespectful to these kids. “And we had to wait for eight calls before we could get trafficked children out of this situation. This is a system that is still broken. “
According to the local Austin NBC affiliate KXANon March 4, DFPS learned that the facility’s director of inpatient care, Courtney Trujillo, “Appears to be aware of the allegation of sexual abuse.” On March 8, this Wednesday, DFPS halted The Refuge and deployed Child Protective Services and off-duty law enforcement officers to the facility to oversee relocations and transfers. to the other facilities of all 11 children in their custody. . This was completed at some point on March 9.
“Has the governor seen it yet?” Jack inquired about the DFPS letter, but received no response.
Thursday evening, around 8:30 p.m. CT, Abbott released a statement calling reports of abuse at The Refuge “disgusting” and ordering the Texas Rangers to investigate immediately.
“Child abuse of any kind will not be tolerated in the state of Texas,” continued Abbott’s statement, “and we are committed to ensuring these despicable perpetrators are brought to justice and prosecuted.” punished to the fullest extent of the law. No child should be subjected to the brutality of human trafficking. I look forward to a thorough and prompt investigation by the Texas Rangers into these appalling crimes.”
Orders an immediate investigation by the Texas Rangers into reports of child sex trafficking at a state contracted children’s shelter.
– Governor Greg Abbott (@GovAbbott) March 11, 2022
One suspect has been arrested so far, and other arrests are expected, but the names of the suspects have not been released.
Jack ordered the state to provide by Friday noon a list of information, including the names of the children allegedly abused, the names of the suspects, and details of the care the children received. previously received at The Refuge since they were shipped.
KXAN’s previous investigations have been reported problems with background checks on employees at The Refuge, including one employee who worked for nearly six months without a positive background check, another employee who received a temporary background check only under specific conditions could be “not being left alone with a child or a group of children”, plus some record keeping compliance issues.
The Refuge for DMST posted a statement on their Facebook page Thursday night confirming the investigation into “a former employee of The Refuge” by the B Carpet County Sheriff’s Office. “Out of an abundance of caution, all youth in our care have been placed in respite care until all is resolved,” they wrote. “We understand and respect the DFPS decision.”
The statement also said that the employee who was the subject of the original charge had been terminated and that they “fully cooperated with the authorities.”
[Photo via The Refuge for DMST on Facebook.]
Is there a trick we should know? [email protected]
https://lawandcrime.com/child-abuse/young-sex-trafficking-victims-were-allegedly-trafficked-again-by-staff-at-government-contracted-shelter-in-texas/ Adoption girls accused of sexual abuse at Texas refugee ranch