- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 24, 2018

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - The state should cut ties with a group home in Pawtucket due to its substandard car, Rhode Island’s child advocate said Tuesday.

Jennifer Griffith released a report recommending state welfare officials stop placements to the Blackstone Valley Youth and Family Collaborative. Griffith’s report follows the indictment of former Blackstone counselor Reysean Williams, who prosecutors say used the company’s van to operate a sex ring.

Williams’ attorney said Wednesday that his client denies involvement in sex trafficking.

Blackstone operates two homes in Pawtucket for up to nine male youths, ages 16 to 21 years old. Griffith’s report says Blackstone failed to report drug and alcohol abuse by residents and violence. It also reportedly uses banned aversion therapy. Griffith says the cooperative didn’t monitor residents and provided false documents.

“I cannot find one strength in this program,” she said Wednesday, calling the care “substandard and unacceptable.”

Blackstone’s Executive Director Daniel Brito didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Williams is the longtime boyfriend of Brito’s niece, according to the Office of the Child Advocate.

The report also alleges that sexual offending youth were placed with developmentally disabled and non-offending youth and that more than 90 percent of the employees do not meet the minimum requirements for working with youth in the care of the Department of Children, Youth and Families.

Griffith said she will discuss the report with the DCYF director, who would decide whether to discontinue placements to the cooperative.

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