THREE YEARS LATER, TEXAS YOUTH COMMISSION VICTIMS STILL WAIT FOR JUSTICE
Accused Sex Offenders Still Not Brought to Trial in Pyote
Ombudsman Position Remains Empty
AUSTIN, TX – The Texas Civil Rights Project calls for immediate trials for the former Texas Youth Commission employees accused of sexually assaulting young men in a West Texas juvenile prison.
Three years ago this month, the Dallas Morning News and Texas Observer published exposes on sexual abuse at the West Texas State School in Pyote, Texas. Local law enforcement had refused to prosecute two prison employees, Ray Brookins and John Paul Hernandez, for allegedly sexually assaulting a number of young prisoners.
"It is unbelievable Brookins and Hernandez still have not been brought to trial," said Scott Medlock, Director of TCRP’s Prisoners’ Rights Program. "The scandal that changed TYC began because charges weren’t being brought against these two men. Now, three years later, their victims are still waiting for justice."
"Prosecuting these men shows if you abuse kids in TYC, you will be held accountable. Further delay undermines creating a culture of accountability," explained Medlock.
Medlock also criticized the agency for failing to fill the Ombudsman position created in the wake of the scandal.
"The Office of the Independent Ombudsman was one of the most important reforms created after the sex scandal was uncovered," said Medlock. "The Ombudsman is a watchdog TYC needs. You can’t leave a position this important empty."
In November 2009, Catherine Evans, the most recent Ombudsman, resigned after bizarre allegations she attempted to carry weapons into TYC facilities just weeks after being appointed to the position.
"For the Ombudsman position to fall so far so fast shows state leaders need to get serious about finding an excellent candidate for the job," said Medlock. "The first Ombudsman, Will Harrell, was very good at building relationships with advocacy groups and fighting for the children in TYC. Now the state can’t even fill the position."
"TYC has made some impressive strides since 2007, and should be commended for making hard choices in order to do what’s right for the kids it takes care of. That’s why these two major problems are so outrageous, because they undermine that progress," explained Medlock.
Submitted by TCRP