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Houston Catholic Charities Accused Of Covering Up Abuse Of 8-year-old

Harris County, Texas sheriff’s officials have confirmed that detectives are investigating the sexual assault of an 8-year old boy at the St. Michael’s Home for Children. They are also going to be reviewing whether the shelter staff violated any laws regarding the handling the incident. The federal Office of Refugee Resettlement has issued what is being described as a scathing report which accuses senior managers within the Catholic Charities Galveston-Houston shelter program of filing false reports regarding the 1 July assault.

What is more, the managers are accused of not seeking immediate medical treatment for the boy, who was anally penetrated.

It was not until 5 August when detectives were first assigned to the case, according to Deputy Thomas Gilliland a spokesman for the department. The investigation was requested by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. Apparently, a teacher walked in on a 10-year-old boy sexually assaulting the 8-year-old in the shelter. The teacher then told an assistant shelter coordinator.

The 8-year-old was talked to by a child psychologist and forensic specialist this past August, and he reported that he had been abused or assaulted repeatedly by a second child who is reported to be 11. The investigation is still pending into the allegations.

Catholic Charities officials have stated that the boy did not make any report of sexual assault before 1 July, and that they then contacted the child-care licensing officials that day. The DFPS has corrected its initial report to state that they were first notified of the incident on 13 July, which means that they delayed at least two weeks before calling in police.

According to the Houston Chronicle:

Catholic Charities officials said Monday that the boy did not make any report of a sexual assault before July 1 and that they contacted state child-care licensing officials that same day.

The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) on Monday corrected its earlier report that the state was first notified on July 13 of an incident at the shelter.

Patrick Crimmins, a spokesman with DFPS, said the shelter “self-notified” the agency of an incident within 24 hours of the July 1 assault, but he could not provide any additional details of what specific allegations the shelter workers reported to the state.

He said a “technical mix-up” resulted in the report not being investigated, and that the state was still trying to determine what exactly happened with the case. DFPS officials opened an investigation into the incident on July 13, and documented deficiencies at the shelter that were later corrected, he said.

The Office of Refugee Resettlement places children and teenagers caught crossing the border without family members into the temporary care of others, including with Catholic Charities. ORR has informed Catholic Charities that they will be removing all children and youths from the organization’s three Houston-area shelters, at least temporarily, because they found that the Catholic Charity’s management “deliberately misled” the ORR about the incident.

The shelter’s management did not report the incident to federal officials until 5 July, and the report did not mention the sexual assault. What is more, it was not until 5 July that the workers at the shelter sought medical treatment for the child. According to the ORR report “ORR discovered there was an intentional plan by CCGH Senior Management to intimidate and or pressure staff to not disclose material facts of the July 1, 2011, incident to ORR in order to ‘protect the program.’”

Catholic Charities officials also said on Monday that the ‘senior management’ cited in the federal report referred to St. Michael’s program management and not the executive level Catholic Charities managers. They issued a statement saying “when Catholic Charities learned of ORR’s concerns, the individual employee at St. Michael’s responsible for those concerns was subsequently terminated.”

The ORR report demands that Catholic Charities identify and reprimand the staff responsible for the delay in seeking medical care for the 8-year-old. Some staff noted that the child was withdrawn and queit after the assault. They also called for the removal from the ORR program of those staff found to have falsified the incident reports.

The ORR has removed all but five of the 72 youths in the care of Catholic Charities Galvaston-Houston.

Of course, in Illinois, Catholic Charities is busy working to try and prevent the loss of their ability to house children, and offer them up for foster care.  Perhaps they should be more worried about the children than they are about protecting their money.



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