- Associated Press - Friday, May 18, 2018

WILLIS, Texas (AP) - Two East Texas facilities that treat girls have fired five employees amid a state investigation into allegations of neglect, improper supervision and physical and sexual abuse.

The staff firings at the Care Cottage facilities in Willis were ahead of a raid Wednesday by Montgomery County law enforcement, the Courier reported . The facilities are licensed for girls ages 6 to 17 and operated by the private HTK Care Foundation Inc.

An investigator’s statement used to obtain the search warrant executed this week outlines allegations reported by residents, including leaving students unattended, girls being injured while restrained and staff parties involving alcohol. At least three employees are accused of having sexual relations with girls in their care, according to the statement.

One of the employees fired was suspected of sexual abuse, said agency spokeswoman Tejal Patel, who didn’t provide any more details of the dismissals or when they occurred.

The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services is investigating all allegations. All girls are currently safe, said Patel.

“While (Child Protective Services) continues to look into the situation and provide information to law enforcement as requested, it is important that these children continue to receive all their needed services, go to school, and focus on their individual situations,” said Patel.

Care Cottage officials declined to comment.

State inspections have already documented a lack of employee background checks and troubled living conditions, including broken windows, moldy bathrooms and holes in the wall.

Care Cottage staff punished girls who spoke to Child Protective Services case workers during the inspections, according to an affidavit. Employees withheld snacks, phone privileges or other awards, the document said.

Tyler Dunman, who heads the Special Crimes Bureau at the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office, said no criminal charges have been filed but an investigation is ongoing.


Information from: Courier, http://yourconroenews.com

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