Ex-Youth Workers Charged in Abuse Scandal

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The scandal that is roiling the Texas juvenile justice system has yielded its first criminal indictments.

Two former administrators at the West Texas State School were indicted last month on numerous counts of improper sexual conduct with six youths ages 16 to 19, according to Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott.

Former assistant superintendent Ray E. Brookins and former principal John P. Hernandez allegedly abused the boys for months, then quashed investigations when staff members raised concerns about suspicious activities. (See “A Swift Kick in the Pants,” April.)

The release of a state investigative report this year and coverage by the Texas media sparked public hearings, criminal investigations, the resignation of the board of the Texas Youth Commission and an impending overhaul of the commission.

The commission oversees more than 7,500 youth in detention and on parole.

Last month, the Texas Senate passed a bill that would, among other things, establish an inspector general’s office to police the agency and investigate allegations of wrongdoing; create an ombudsman to evaluate the quality of services and manage youth and family complaints; require commission officers to undergo at least 300 hours of training, up from the 30 to 40 they get now; and disqualify anyone with a felony record from working for the commission.

Hernandez has publicly denied the allegations. Brookins had not issued a statement as of late last month.