Gov. Greg Abbott called Wednesday for the Texas Department of Public Safety to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct by employees of the state’s juvenile justice system.
A November Dallas Morning News story revealed allegations of misconduct reminiscent of a 2007 sex scandal, which led to an overhaul of the state’s juvenile justice system. Then, at least 13 boys were said to have been abused.
A decade later, one former officer at the Gainesville State School has been convicted of improper sexual activity with a person in custody and two others have been arrested on similar charges, including one accused of becoming impregnated by a male youth in the system, the newspaper reported.
“Recent reports of sexual misconduct and inappropriate relationships by state employees at the Texas Juvenile Justice Department (TJJD) are reprehensible and necessitate an appropriate response,” Abbott said in a letter to DPS Director Steve McCraw. “While I commend the TJJD Office of the Inspector General for investigating these recent allegations and submitting them for prosecution, additional action is needed to guarantee the protection of the youth in the care and custody of the state of Texas.”
Abbott, who said he wants the Texas Rangers on the case “immediately,” expressed the same sentiment in a letter to Camille Cain, the new executive director of the Texas Juvenile Justice Department.
“As you are aware, there are pressing challenges facing TJJD, but I am confident you are up to the task,” Abbott said. “Children are one of our state’s most precious resources, and I want to ensure the best for the youth and the staff who reside and work at TJJD facilities.”
Spokeswoman Carolyn Beck said in a statement that the agency will work with investigators.
“Gov. Abbott’s letter to Col. McCraw reflects a strong commitment to the safety and well-being of the youth in TJJD’s care,” she said. “We welcome and share that commitment. Both the youth, and our dedicated staff members, deserve protections at every step. We appreciate added law enforcement support and involvement and look forward to working with the Rangers. The agency will provide support in every way it can.”