March 23, 2007
No indictments in TYC cases yet

You know, after all the outrage and demonization of the accused offenders at the Pyote TYC facility, it would be...the word "bizarre" comes to mind...if the Attorney General were ultimately unable to get any indictments against them. After one day of testimony before the grand jury, that's where things stand.

A West Texas grand jury heard evidence on Wednesday in the sexual abuse case against two former administrators of a state juvenile detention facility but didn't return any indictments or issue any subpoenas.

The jury investigating allegations of long-term abuse at the Texas Youth Commission's West Texas State School in Pyote will reconvene on April 10.

Earlier Wednesday, a Texas Rangers captain said he expected the Attorney General's Office to seek subpoenas and court orders but not an indictment. A spokesman for Attorney General Greg Abbott said he could not comment on the proceedings.

Amy Raskin has more detail:

The Attorney General's office was mum on the matter, and outside AG sources still close to the case said they were in the dark. No one wanted to speculate whether the alleged victims, kids who may want to put their TYC experience behind them, were refusing to testify.

In any event, maybe Don Clemmer, deputy attorney general for the criminal justice division, knew something when he told lawmakers earlier this month that his office would wait until the beginning of May to present evidence to a grand jury. Lawmakers were furious, demanding that Clemmer explain why action couldn't be taken sooner. That was March 8. On March 9, an attorney with the AG's office revealed that a grand jury would hear evidence the week of March 19, weeks earlier.

Maybe the AG's office needed more time to present their case. If it had been me sitting in Clemmer's seat that day, I'd have preferred eating needles to telling lawmakers that. Not with the present fury and finger-pointing surrounding the TYC sex scandal.

It should be noted that the accused weren't no-billed, so this is far from over. Let's see what happens on April 10. Whatever one may think of Ray Brookins and John Paul Hernandez and their alleged actions, they deserve a chance to face their accusers and respond to the charges.

Meanwhile, there were shenanigans galore as "vote machine malfunctions" and a suspicious point of order sent a corrections bill that would have given local DAs more leeway in working with the AG's office on TYC cases back to committee. It's a little hard to summarize, so let me point you to Burka, Brooks, Brooks again, and especially Vince for more.

On another front, Patricia Kilday Hart brings up the sorry story of the Lubbock State School, where State Sen. Eliot Shapleigh has asked the Senate Health and Human Services Committee to investigate 17 deaths in the last 18 months. I blogged about this in December, after the DOJ issued a scathing report that apparently hasn't been followed up on yet.

Finally, RG Ratcliffe and Vince have more on the story of what Governor Perry knew about Pyote and when he knew it. According to Ratcliffe:

In April 2004, former TYC Inspector General Randal Chance wrote a book called Raped by the State, outlining abuse allegations in TYC -- especially at the West Texas State School.

Chance sent an email to Perry's office complaining that TYC employees were threatening him over his self-published book.

Chance's e-mail was forwarded to TYC by Perry criminal justice advisor Janna Burleson and copied to press secretary Kathy Walt and the general counsel's office.

An e-mail from TYC Chief of Staff Joy Anderson to the governor's office said the book was an "angry, rambling, racist, sexist attack against the agency'' and "offered little detail that would enable us to investigate further.'' Burleson wrote back: "No need to respond to him (Chance).''

Even if the book was the ramblings of a disgruntled former employee, the email exchange shows neither TYC executives nor the governor's office tried to investigate whether there was any subtance to what Chance was saying.

Chance said when he did not hear back from the governor, "I assumed they did not take it seriously.''

That's the same Joy Anderson who told Perry staff member Alfonso Royal that they weren't aware of any pending charges regarding Pyote. She obviously didn't think much about it all. Vince has a copy of the emails in question. Check them out.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on March 23, 2007 to Scandalized!