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Sgt. Brian Burzynski
The Texas juvenile justice sexual abuse scandal – in which Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton are accused of failing to take action – is a broader scandal that was covered up for two years, involving hundreds of serious complaints and investigations against dozens of staff members, according to officials.
The Texas Youth Commission scandal went unnoticed, says Texas Ranger Brian Burzynski, despite his numerous attempts, beginning in early 2005, to get local, state and federal prosecutors to investigate allegations teachers, administrators and guards had sex with minor male inmates.
Burzynski exposed the situation March 8 in testimony to the Texas legislature’s Joint Committee on Operation and Management of the TYC. He stated he began his investigation Feb. 23, 2005, after a phone call from a teacher at the West Texas state school in Pyote, Texas, alleging another teacher at the school was involved in sexual misconduct with boy inmates.
In his testimony, Burzynski detailed being rebuffed by federal, state and local prosecutors for two years.
Burzynski presented a timeline asserting his investigation was, in turn, stonewalled by Ward County District Attorney Randall Reynolds, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.
All refused to prosecute, he claimed, despite being presented evidence of sexual abuse at the Pyote school.
Sutton also is under fire for decisions to prosecute two Border Patrol agents and Deputy Sheriff Gil Hernandez after the alleged intervention of the Mexican government. Gonzales faces heavy congressional pressure in the controversy over the recent forced resignations of eight U.S. attorneys.
Burzynski testified that the first serious discussion of prosecution in the case occurred Feb. 13 in a meeting with Reynolds in the Ward County District Attorney’s Office, only after the story of his investigation finally broke in Texas newspapers.
Emerging evidence suggests the scandal was systematic and statewide, perpetrated by a criminal conspiracy of staff employees.
Texas authorities are investigating allegations that pedophiles on the TYC staff conspired to recruit and hire other pedophiles to engage in criminal acts of forced sex with the minor inmates.
Among the charges in a Texas Ranger report was that administrators would rouse boys from their sleep for the purpose of conducting all-night sex parties.
On March 2, Gov. Rick Perry appointed Jay Kimbrough, his former staff chief and homeland security director, to serve as “special master” to head the TYC investigation. On March 17, the entire TYC governing board resigned.
Ted Royer, spokesman for Perry, told WND Kimbrough’s investigation has found “hundreds of new complaints about abuse and neglect and abuse at facilities across the state.”
“There is a culture at TYC that has all too often turned a blind eye to sexual abuse and instead of addressing the issue, people have attempted to cover-up the scandal,” Royer said.
TYC spokesman Jim Hurley told WND more than 1,200 complaints are now being investigated.
“The staff under investigation includes the whole range of TYC staff, from the top to the bottom,” said Hurley, who was asked by Perry’s office to take on the spokesman’s job as a special assignment.
Three actual arrests have been made, and more are pending, according to Hurley, whose permanent job is communications director for the Texas Department of Insurance.
“There was a failure of leadership in the Texas Youth Commission,” Hurley explained. “The board failed and the executive director failed.”
The resigned board transferred its power to a new acting executive director, Ed Owens, former deputy director of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Hurley said.
Along with the board and the executive director, the TYC also has dismissed its general counsel, the deputy general counsel, the deputy executive director and the inspector general.
Hurley confirmed TYC management and staff personnel were hired despite prior records of felony offenses or previous sexual misconduct.
“Apparently having a prior felony record did not preclude you becoming a TYC employee,” Hurley admitted. “A lot of the vetting of prospective employees were simply reviewed at the local unit level.”
WND asked Hurley if the evidence suggested a group of criminal pedophiles sexually abusing minor boys were hiring counterparts just like themselves.
“It is conceivable that you could have a situation like that,” Hurley responded. “In the past week we have conducted criminal background reports on all TYC employees. We are also looking at the records of every extension of term that has been issued for every inmate to see if the people running TYC were extending sentences of these inmates.”
Hurley told WND Kimbrough was determined to expose the full extent of the corruption at TYC.
The TYC has opened up the results of the investigation to the ACLU, NAACP, (League of United Latin American Citizens, Texas District and County Attorneys Association and the Special Prosecution Unit at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
At the conclusion of his testimony to the Texas legislature joint committee, Burzynski spoke personally, saying he wanted to “shed some light on the real reason why I am here.”
“When I interviewed the victims in this case, I saw kids with fear in their eyes, kids who knew they were trapped in an institution where the system would not respond to their cries for help,” he said.
He emphasized the personal commitment he felt to the victims in the case.
“Perhaps their family failed them, society failed them, TYC definitely failed them,” he said. “But I promised each one of those victims that I would try to do everything in my power as a Texas Ranger to insure that justice would be served and that this didn’t happen again. The Rangers would not fail them, and I made that perfectly clear to each one of them.”
Burzynski said he “can only imagine what the students think about the Ranger who was unable to bring them justice. I feel like I played a very small part in chipping away at an iceberg.”
At the conclusion, he received a standing ovation from the joint committee and audience in the room.
The Texas Rangers told WND Burzynski was not available to be interviewed and referred inquiries to the governor’s office.
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