As embattled U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales traveled city to city to talk about keeping children safe from sexual predators, a conservative Web site accused the Justice Department of ignoring for two years evidence of systematic sexual abuse of boys in Texas’ youth prison system.
A story posted Sunday night on World Net Daily said Gonzales, currently under fire from Congress over forced resignations of eight U.S. attorneys, declined to prosecute officers in the Texas Youth Commission after a Texas Ranger’s investigation found evidence that guards and administrators were sexually abusing inmates at the West Texas State School in Pyote, Texas. Allegations include that administrators would rouse boys from their sleep to engage in all-night sex parties.
Reporter Jerome Corsi, co-author of a book written in collaboration with the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth attacking then-presidential candidate John Kerry, wrote a follow-up article Tuesday saying the abuse was part of a scandal involving hundreds of complaints and investigations of dozens of staff members.
“It basically sounds as if you wouldn’t get hired in one of these facilities unless you were a pedophile,” Corsi said in a radio interview on the Alex Jones Show. “You’ve got a culture of pedophilia that is at the core of the Texas Youth Commission, and what that means is you won’t get hired or you won’t stay as an employee unless you’re willing to participate in the boy rape that’s going on or keep quiet about it.”
Corsi said it shows that–as Democratic critics of Gonzales charge–political prosecutions are coming out of the Attorney General’s office. Along with Gonzales, he criticizes U.S. Attorney John Sutton, who prosecuted two border-patrol agents and a deputy sheriff for violating the civil rights of illegal aliens, apparently influenced by intervention from the Mexican government.
According to Corsi, a Texas Ranger named Brian Burzynski presented overwhelming evidence of abuse to local, state and federal prosecutors but all refused to bring charges. A U.S. states attorney in San Antoniowrote Burzynski in July 2005 saying to support felony charges under federal law, prosecutors would have to prove either that victims suffered physical injury or that the acts weren’t consensual.
Instead of pursuing misdemeanor charges, Assistant U.S. Attorney Bill Bauman concluded, “It is my opinion … that our office’s resources would be better employed investigating and prosecuting cases involving more clearly defined violations of federal criminal law.”
After newspapers broke the story in February, Burzynski testified before lawmakers, who chastised TYC board members for not taking the allegations more seriously. Gov. Rick Perry appointed a “special master” to lead an investigation March 2. The full TYC board resigned March 16. Two top officials stepped down March 20. The case finally went to a grand jury last Wednesday.
State officials now say many of the 4,700 youths held in the state’s juvenile prisons might have had their sentences unfairly and arbitrarily extended, and thousands could be set free.
Monday in Denver, Gonzales unveiled a new public service announcement designed to persuade teens to “Think Before You Post” personal information on popular networking Web sites like MySpace and Facebook, which could make them vulnerable to online predators.
“The sexual abuse and exploitation of children is one of the most horrific crimes plaguing our nation today,” Gonzales said in a press release. “As Attorney General and as a father, I realize the importance of seeking out and prosecuting these individuals to the fullest extent of the law.”
Leaving the controversy over the botched firings behind, Gonzales departed Washington last Thursday for a week of meeting with prosecutors and talking to media in dozens of cities about keeping kids safe from sexual predators.
“I’m not going to resign,” he said in St. Louis, according to the Associated Press. “I’m going to stay focused on protecting our kids.”
Last month the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) asked Gonzales to use his platform while addressing the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee to assist their efforts to draw attention to sexual abuse by Southern Baptist clergy.
Gonzales instead announced a new Justice Department initiative to educate Americans about their religious liberties and asked Southern Baptists to help identify and report cases of abuse of those liberties. Gonzales told reporters he approached the SBC about speaking at their meeting because he knew it was a receptive audience.
In his radio interview, Corsi said letters from Gonzales’ office declining to investigate and prosecute proves he and others in his office knew what was going on.
“They should have known there was a conspiracy to commit these acts, and yet they didn’t prosecute or investigate,” he said. “I think the burden of proof on Sutton and Gonzales is going to increase dramatically as to why they were negligent in their duties, criminally negligent in their duties, to investigate when they had information that these offenses were occurring.”
Questions he would ask Gonzales and Sutton, he said, include: “Why did it take two years? What were you guys doing when you had this information? Why did you sit on it? What were you thinking? Are you participating in allowing this culture to exist? Are you going to be culpable for having known this was going on?”
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.