In the March 16 letter McCraw refuted allegations of sex trafficking and sexual abuse at The Refuge for DMST, a state-licensed facility for juvenile sex trafficking survivors in Bastrop.
The statement comes one day after U.S. District Judge Janis Jack said she wants a federal inquiry into The Refuge for DMST— bypassing the Texas Rangers investigation headed by McCraw. Jack questioned the integrity of the Rangers’ investigation during a Wednesday hearing. She also questioned if Rangers understood the definition of sex trafficking.
Rangers initiated their investigation after nine staff members at the facility were accused of sex trafficking at least seven underage sex trafficking survivors.
"There is no evidence that any of the residents at the Refuge shelter have ever been sexually abused or trafficked while at the shelter." McCraw wrote to Abbott on March 16.
In the same March 16 letter, McCraw acknowledged that the agency was investigating an incident where a staff member allegedly made underage sex trafficking survivors sell nude photographs of themselves for drugs and/or money.
The March 16 letter prompted Abbott to tweet "Texas Rangers clear Bastrop child center from allegations of sexual abuse or human trafficking. Many people jumped to false conclusions."
"The thing that was most disturbing about the Rangers’ announcement that there was no evidence of sex abuse is that there’s lots of evidence of that." said Paul Yetter, who has been representing children in a legal battle against Texas’ foster care system for more than a decade.
Yetter added, "The commissioner of DFPS [Wednesday] told the judge she believed there was lots of evidence of sex abuse. It’s obvious that there was, we don’t know why the Rangers’ report said otherwise."
In a March 29 letter, McCraw appears to contradict his March 16 letter. He wrote "We have not identified additional evidence of sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, or human trafficking occurring at the refuge shelter beyond what was initially reported on January 24th."
In a statement Thursday a DPS spokesperson stressed that the agency’s investigation was ongoing and that McCraw's March 16 letter and testimony at a March 17 hearing was "to provide a summary of the initial findings of the investigation."
The statement also says, "…Texas Rangers had only found evidence of child sexual exploitation [on March 16]. These preliminary findings remain the same as we have not identified any additional evidence of sexual abuse or human trafficking occurring at The Refuge."
READ THE FULL STATEMENT BELOW:
"The purpose of Director McCraw’s March 16 letter was to provide a summary of the initial findings of the investigation into reports of sex trafficking at The Refuge. The following day Director McCraw testified before the Senate Select Committee on Child Protective Services and reiterated it was still an active investigation, but Texas Rangers had only found evidence of child sexual exploitation thus far. These preliminary findings remain the same as we have not identified any additional evidence of sexual abuse or human trafficking occurring at The Refuge. It is imperative that DFPS continue to document and report all allegations – whether they are substantiated or not – so that comprehensive criminal investigations can be conducted. The investigation by the Texas Rangers is still ongoing, and they are committed to pursuing each and every allegation to its end and interviewing all persons necessary before concluding the investigation."
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No evidence of sex trafficking, abuse at Texas facility, says DPS
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Authorities investigating The Refuge for DMST for child sex trafficking
Foster girls, victims of sex trafficking, abused at Texas shelter
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