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One Account of Abuse and Fear in Texas Youth Detention

3-7-2007 Texas:

Joseph Galloway says he was molested at 15 by a female corrections officer in a Texas Youth Commission detention center and later raped by a fellow inmate as a guard stood by.

“That’s when I started to try to kill myself,” Mr. Galloway, now 19, said by telephone from another youth facility as he waited late Tuesday to be interviewed by the Texas Rangers.

Mr. Galloway’s account is among about 150 new complaints that have emerged from 44 secure state schools, halfway houses and residential youth care programs in Texas as a result of several overlapping inquiries into accusations of sexual abuse and other mistreatment there.

A senior investigator, speaking anonymously because he was not authorized to talk to news organizations, said that only Wednesday, a registered sex offender was found to be working at the Coke County Juvenile Justice Center, near San Angelo, a Youth Commission facility operated by a private contractor.

“The good news is we’re finding plenty to inquire about,” said Jay Kimbrough, the special master appointed by Gov. Rick Perry to investigate after a scandal broke last month with news reports that the commission had covered up repeated sexual encounters between at least 10 boys and 2 administrators at the West Texas State School, in Pyote, from 2003 to 2005. More recently, officials said that at least three girls had been sexually abused by a corrections officer at another facility, in Brownwood.

A joint legislative committee of inquiry is to hold a hearing on Thursday in Austin, with testimony expected from the Texas ranger whose report on the events at Pyote remained undisclosed from 2005 until a few weeks ago.

Joseph Galloway’s story, the most recent to be publicly detailed, came to light after his mother, Genger Galloway, a nurse from the East Texas town of Crockett, complained to an advocacy group that her son was beaten this Jan. 29 at the Evins Regional Juvenile Center, in Edinburg in South Texas.

Ms. Galloway testified on Feb. 27 at a Senate Criminal Justice Committee hearing into accusations of abuse and cover-ups. But she said in an interview that it was not until she visited her son last Saturday at his current facility, the Crockett State School, near their home, that he told her of the sexual attack by the fellow inmate years ago.

Under the glare of public pressure, youth officials took the unusual step of allowing Mr. Galloway to speak to reporters who requested interviews.

That attack, Mr. Galloway said, was not the first in which he was raped. At 8, he said, he was sodomized by the 16-year-old brother of a playmate. “He put me in a headlock, and he told me he would kill me,” Mr. Galloway said. He said he had bled from the attack but had never reported it to anyone.

He grew aggressive, he said, and when another boy once grabbed him in a headlock, he overreacted and beat him with a baseball bat. He spent several months in a mental hospital as a result, he said.

When he was 14, he said, his mother learned of an isolated incident of sexual touching between him and his 8-year-old twin siblings, and reported it to the authorities. A family judge agreed to probation, his mother recalled. But a district attorney alerted a child protective agency, and the county, with no money for treatment of him, turned him over to the Youth Commission, where he ended up in 2003 at the Giddings State School, east of Austin.

His detention was supposed to last nine months. Lapses in the system and his infractions while in custody have turned it into years, a circumstance not uncommon in the facilities, experts say.

While at Giddings at age 15, Mr. Galloway said, he was doing chores in the kitchen one day when he was accosted by a female corrections officer, who performed oral sex on him. Another youth walked in on them, but the episode was never reported, he said.

Not long afterward, he said, he was written up for fighting and sent to a more secure unit. But it was overcrowded, and when a youth in one cell screamed out that he wanted the new arrival put in with him — the inmate used crude sexual epithets, Mr. Galloway said — a guard he knew only as Mr. Henry shoved him, over his objections, into the cell.

The inmate “hit me in the mouth and back of the head,” inflicting a savage beating, Mr. Galloway recounted, until he submitted. He suffered severe bleeding from the rectum as a result of the sexual assault, he said, but reported it in the infirmary as just a case of hemorrhoids.

“I didn’t want anyone to find out,” he said, because he feared “embarrassment and persecution.”

He learned that Mr. Henry had later committed suicide, he said, when youths at the facility were called to a psychologist for grief counseling over the death. He said he thought the rape might have been a factor in the suicide.

(Tim Savoy, a spokesman for the Youth Commission, said he had no immediate information on a guard’s suicide around that time. Asked how many youths had died in commission custody, Mr. Savoy put the number at seven in the last 10 years, with one fatality involving the excessive use of force by guards and the others suicide or medical problems.)

Mr. Galloway said the rape had left him angry and feeling guilty and had prompted him to attempt suicide, using shards from his eyeglasses to slit his wrists and, on another occasion, trying to hang himself.

He was then transferred to the Evins facility, where, he said, the staff falsely portrayed him as a white racist, antagonizing black and Hispanic inmates to the point where “I got jumped and had my jaw broken.”

But, he said, the infirmary denied him pain medication, and he became so distraught that he ripped out the wires in his jaw, requiring a trip back to a hospital in Galveston for rewiring.

Upon his mother’s complaints to the advocacy group, Mr. Galloway said, he was transferred on Feb. 1 to the Crockett facility.

One investigator looking into Texas youth abuse, John Moriarty, inspector general of the state’s Department of Criminal Justice, said his officers had interviewed Mr. Galloway.

“There’s no reason at this point,” Mr. Moriarty said, “to doubt anything he’s saying.” ..more.. by RALPH BLUMENTHAL

TYC inmate's mom testifies on his rape
3-28-2007 Texas:

Her son was beaten and molested — and once violently raped by a fellow inmate while a guard stood nearby — at three Texas Youth Commission facilities, Genger Galloway told a federal commission Tuesday.

But a caseworker at the Crockett State School, where her son, 19, is now confined, rebuked them when she complained about the sexual assault, Galloway testified.

"She said, 'We'll handle this internally, our own way,' " Galloway told the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission.

The panel, charged with investigating sexual abuse in detention facilities and reporting its findings and recommendations for reform to Congress, spent part of a visit to Austin focusing on the Texas Youth Commission's sex-abuse scandal.

The Legislature, meanwhile, continued its own investigation. One lawmaker accused the newly appointed head of the agency of moving too slowly to enact sweeping changes.

"I'm not seeing the radical changes that we're expecting in terms of reform, protection of youthful offenders and employees. We're studying this to death," Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, co-chairman of a legislative committee overseeing TYC, told acting Executive Director Ed Owens. "It's time to act, heads to roll."

Owens acknowledged that the agency hasn't improved training for guards, improved its grievance system or purchased additional surveillance cameras in the four weeks since Gov. Rick Perry appointed him to head the agency.

But he said he will present lawmakers with a detailed plan for reforms Thursday.

"The lives of my entire family have been turned upside down," said Galloway, who lives in Crockett and whose testimony before the federal panel was often graphic.

She said her son, whom doctors suspect is bipolar, got into trouble for "inappropriately" touching his twin siblings.

The family reported his conduct to the authorities, hoping he would receive mental health treatment. He initially received probation but was confined in TYC custody in 2003 to keep Child Protective Services from removing his siblings from the family's home, Galloway said.

She testified that her son never has been treated for mental health problems but has suffered repeated physical abuse. He was beaten and his nose broken during his initial confinement at the Marlin State School, she said.

Galloway said her son was transferred to the Giddings State School, where a female staffer performed oral sex on him. He didn't report the incident because he didn't think anyone would believe him, she told the commission.

Later, at Giddings, she said, a guard put her son in a locked, disciplinary cell with an 18-year-old inmate who had told the staffer to put the two in the same place because he wanted to have sex with Galloway's son.

According to his mother, her son was beaten and raped in the cell while the guard stood a few feet away. The same officer, she said, committed suicide two weeks later.

Galloway testified that her son didn't tell her about the rape until recently, when she visited him at the Crockett State School. That was when she was rebuked by the caseworker for complaining, she said.

Shortly before Galloway's son was transferred to Crockett on Feb. 1, he was beaten by a fellow inmate and suffered a broken jaw at the Evins State School in Edinburg, his mother testified.

His stay in TYC also has been marked by more than 300 disciplinary infractions, according to a letter sent to his mother in January 2006 by Dwight Harris, then the TYC's executive director.

The Houston Chronicle obtained a copy of the letter from the governor's office after Harris resigned.

According to Harris' letter, Galloway's son's initial offense was aggravated sexual assault and that he was confined for violating probation.

But Scott Medlock, Galloway's attorney, said she asked the court to revoke her son's probation in order to prevent CPS from removing his siblings from the household because of his conviction.

Galloway, who has become a leader of parents seeking reforms in the TYC, said her son is now "hopeful."

But she added, "How defeated he will be if he is not released soon." ..more.. by CLAY ROBISON and LISA SANDBERG

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