Texas: Guard accused of assaulting youth goes to trial
By Alicia A. Caldwell / Associated Press, Dallasnews.com, April 19, 2010

More than three years after allegations of rampant sexual abuse of teenage inmates upended the Texas Youth Commission, one of two former jail administrators accused in the case is set to stand trial.

Ray Brookins, a former assistant superintendent at TYC's West Texas State School in Pyote, was indicted in 2007 and will go before a jury Monday in an Odessa courtroom.

His lawyer, Bob Garcia Jr., has repeatedly declined to discuss the case and did not return a call seeking comment Friday.

Sex abuse allegations against Brookins and former principal John Paul Hernandez were first investigated by the Texas Rangers in 2005.

A lengthy and detailed report from Texas Rangers investigators, which wasn't acted upon for two years, said Brookins and Hernandez summoned young male inmates from their dorms late at night to ball fields, darkened conference rooms, offices and ball fields for sex for at least two years.

Investigators described late night encounters involving oral sex, masturbation and pornographic videos. Some of the teen inmates, investigators, were also threatened with retaliation.

In one instance, investigators alleged, an inmate who resisted Brookins' advances reported Brookins threatened to keep the boy locked up until he was 21 unless he complied.

Investigators said other inmates were lured into sexual acts with offers of birthday cake or pledges of help getting into college.

Investigators believe at least 13 boys were sexually abused.

An internal investigation revealed that several employees at the Pyote jail complained to their bosses or other TYC officials but the complaints were largely ignored. And both Brookins and Hernandez were allowed to quietly resign amid the Rangers investigation.

The lurid allegations became public in 2007 when the Rangers report was brought to the attention of lawmakers in Austin and prompted an outcry from legislators and parents of teens jailed at other TYC facilities.

Widespread allegations of abuses and inmates being held beyond their sentences at TYC jails across the state quickly emerged and state officials launched an agency-wide probe aimed at rooting out problem employees.

In the wake of the Pyote revelations, TYC's top two administrators lost their jobs. The probe also led to the release of at least 550 inmates who had completed their minimum sentences and hadn't caused any trouble behind bars.

TYC officials weren't the only ones caught up in the abuse scandal.

Ward County District Attorney Randall W. "Randy" Reynolds received the Rangers report in 2005 and was accused of failing to act on it.

Reynolds blamed a "breakdown in communication" for delays in the case, which was quickly taken over by state Attorney General Greg Abbott's office.

After winning indictments against both men, Abbott promised swift justice.

But the cases stalled in the court system. Initial trial dates for both men came and went and a flurry of motions, including where the cases should be heard, went unanswered for months.

Last year, Abbott spokesman Jerry Strickland said prosecutors had repeatedly asked District Judge Bob Parks to set trial dates but the requests went unanswered.

Parks was removed from the case last July. Jay Reeves, an Odessa judge who replaced Parks, then ordered the cases moved to Odessa, about 50 miles east of Pyote.

Strickland did not return a telephone message seeking comment Friday.

A trial date has not been set for Hernandez, who also pleaded not guilty, but Reeves has ruled that the case will proceed following a verdict in Brookins' case.


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