Ex-youth prison officials charged with inmate abuse
CNN.com, April 10, 2007

MONAHANS, Texas (AP) -- The former principal and assistant superintendent of a state juvenile prison were indicted Tuesday on charges that they sexually abused teenage inmates in their care.

The charges are the most serious to emerge from the youth prison scandal that erupted after news accounts revealed a 2005 report by the Texas Rangers alleging rampant sexual abuse at the remote facility languished without any action.

Ray E. Brookins, former assistant superintendent at the Texas Youth Commission's West Texas State School, was indicted on two counts of improper relationship with a student and two counts of improper sexual activity with a person in custody.

Former Principal John Paul Hernandez was indicted on one count of sexual assault, nine counts of improper sexual activity with a person in custody and nine counts of improper relationship between a student and educator.

Improper relationship with a student is a second-degree felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

Hernandez was arrested at his parents' home in Fort Stockton and Brookins was arrested at his Austin residence. Bail was set at $600,000 for Hernandez and $100,000 for Brookins. The Ward County clerk had no records of attorneys for either man. Hernandez has denied the allegations and Brookins has not been reached for comment.

The indictments were issued more than two years after a lengthy Rangers report detailing abuse allegations at the school was handed to a local prosecutor who has since come under fire for not acting on the allegations. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has taken over the case.

Since the scandal broke in February, the Texas Legislature has pushed for a complete overhaul of the Texas Youth Commission. The executive director and the board resigned. The agency was put into receivership and a conservator was appointed to overhaul the commission.

Former inmates and their parents have brought other allegations of sexual and physical abuse in facilities around the state. The commission also pledged to release more than 550 inmates who have served their minimum sentence and stayed out of trouble while in jail.

Brookins and Hernandez were accused of sexually abusing six inmates ages 16 to 19.

According to the indictments obtained by The Associated Press, Hernandez is accused of giving oral sex to two teen inmates on the same day in May 2004. Hernandez is accused of having oral sex or fondling several inmates over the course of 10 months from May 2004, to February 23, 2005, the same day Texas Ranger Brian Burzysnki launched his investigation.

Brookins and Hernandez were allowed to quietly quit their jobs amid investigation
Brookins was also accused of having oral sex with inmates and molesting them. He was charged with abuses from two days in October 2004.

Brookins and Hernandez were allowed to quietly quit their jobs amid the Ranger investigation in early 2005.

Also on Tuesday, a former teacher at the school filed a petition to oust the local prosecutor, Randall W. Reynolds, on grounds of incompetence and official misconduct. According to an Associated Press analysis of state court filings, he declined to prosecute most cases about the school that were sent to his office in 2005 and 2006.

Reynolds, who recused himself after media began covering the scandal, filed his own petition Tuesday to remove a county attorney who is among his critics. Reynolds issued a news release saying he found it ironic that the state attorney general's office had apparently assigned five to 10 attorneys and staff to the grand jury investigation, while he, "as a part-time country DA," was criticized "for not doing it all in the time the media deemed appropriate."

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.



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