Tag Archives: Child Predator

CHILDREN WERE FAIR GAME AT THE NH JUVENILE DETENTION CENTER PT-2

The state was supposed to rehabilitate them. Instead, hundreds of children were allegedly abused in N.H.

Updated April 22, 2022

MANCHESTER, NH  –  Even now, as one division of the state attorney general’s office works to investigate the hundreds of allegations, another department within the office has sought to discredit a victim’s accusations as it defends the state against civil claims.

“If you look at it today,” says David Meehan, a former YDC resident whose 2020 lawsuit helped bring the facility’s sordid history into public view, “we’re not that far really from where we were.”

They were among the state’s most vulnerable children.  They came from cities and small towns, from broken homes and shattered families.  By the time they arrived, some had already been subjected to a lifetime’s worth of abuse.

Violent youths, including the teens involved in the Pamela Smart case, were housed at YDC.  But for decades, many others were sent for minor offenses:  stealing or skipping school or because a parent had lost custody and there was nowhere else to put them. Once, in the 1970s, a judge reportedly ordered a 13-year-old girl to the facility because she declined to testify against a 30-year-old man charged with raping her.

When Meehan arrived at YDC in 1995, a scrawny and scared 14-year-old, he’d already heard the stories.  A runaway snatched up by police for a string of burglaries, Meehan was in the back of a sheriff’s car bound for the courthouse, he said in an interview, when the kid next to him — a return offender — told him about the beatings and rapes he said happened there.

It was about a year after his arrival, Meehan recalls, that a guard arrived in his room one day to conduct a contraband search.  At the man’s orders, he undressed.  As a result of the sexual assault that followed, Meehan alleges in a lawsuit, he contracted gonorrhea, for which he had to be treated at the facility’s infirmary.

The assault would be the start of a horrific two-year stretch of what Meehan says was sometimes daily abuse.

There were occasions, Meehan says now, when he would be raped by two different guards in the same day.  Once, Meehan says, he was forced to watch as a guard sexually assaulted a female resident (girls were housed separately at the facility).  Another time, he says, he was taken to the off-site apartment of a counselor who cocked a pistol, held it to Meehan’s head, and ordered the teen to perform oral sex on him.

Another resident, Robert Boudreau, 48 now, remembers acting out in order to get put into solitary confinement.  Being chained alone to a metal bed, he reasoned, was preferable to what he says awaited him in the front seat of a then-staffer’s car.

Michael Donovan, a self-proclaimed country kid, says he ended up at the facility in the late 1970s after his mother lost custody and a pair of local group homes were too full to take him.  He was raped by staffers on seven or eight occasions in the weeks before his uncle — the only person he would tell about the abuse — managed to get him out, he says.

During nights at the facility, Donovan says now, “you just hoped it wasn’t your turn that night.”

The first time guards came for Michael Gilpatrick, not long after a runaway attempt, he figured he was going to get written up.  But this time, the boy, housed in the facility’s East Cottage in the late 1990s, was taken into a stairwell, where two guards held him down while two others raped him, he alleges.

Like many others, he kept his mouth shut — even after the sexual abuse allegedly continued in the months and years that followed.

“Who do you go to?” says Gilpatrick.  “They have control over visits, [whether you’re allowed] to go on furlough, discipline. They were in charge of everything.

“They were like God.”

.jpg photo of Sununu Youth Services CenterThe youth detention center was built on a stretch of pastoral farmland in Manchester, a sprawling property abutting the winding ribbon of the Merrimack River with a working farm and a collection of fruit trees.

It was 1858, and New Hampshire officials, taking a cue from other states, set out to create a place where delinquent children could be housed separately from adult offenders — a pioneering notion at the time.  Their vision was grand:  Youth would be housed, fed, and rehabilitated before emerging, thankful and reformed, as productive citizens.

“[Children] shall look back to their sojourn here, not as to a place of degradation and punishment, but as to a kind and affectionate home,” US Representative T.M. Edwards said during the facility’s dedication ceremony.  “Not with feelings of shame and aversion, but with hearts filled with gratitude to the state for its parental interposition in their behalf in the hour of their extremest need.”

From the start, however, rehabilitation was often pursued with brutal force.

The facility was a haven of cruelty. One early punishment, known as the “water cure,” involved staffers spraying cold water into the face of a girl dressed only in her underwear, her hands held in restraints to prevent her from shielding herself, Governor Charles W. Tobey revealed in the 1930s.  Girls were forced to lie on a bed or a laundry basket as they were beaten as many as 250 times with rubber piping.

“[They] beat them so bad that the staff would have to have other staff come in because they were so tired from beating the kids,” says Gary Wall, a onetime intern at YDC who is writing a book about the facility’s first 100 years.

Tobey, for his part, minced no words in labeling the facility a place with “punitive methods savored of barbarism and the Dark Ages.”

But while the facility would undergo a variety of changes in the decades to come — alternate names, new buildings — its penchant for violence and abuse, former residents say, would remain deeply ingrained.

Visitors to the facility, too, recall disturbing scenes.

Pamela Kirby, who regularly visited her son at YDC when he was living there in the 1990s, told the Globe she watched a campus baseball game in which one player traversed the field in leg shackles.  Another parent, G. Michael Sanborn, whose foster son was a resident at YDC a few years later, recalled a visit to the facility in which he saw several children walk past without pants.

Unsettled, he inquired about the bizarre scene.

To dissuade runaway attempts, Sanborn says he was told, staff sometimes took the children’s clothing.

In 2000, the state’s child welfare agency — facing a growing list of accusations about abuse at the facility — launched an investigation.

Among the allegations were claims that children were locked in their rooms for weeks and months at a time, that a boy’s head had been repeatedly slammed into a pool table by a staffer, and that a resident had lost a fingertip after a staff member slammed his hand in a door.

CHILDREN WERE FAIR GAME AT THE NH JUVENILE DETENTION CENTER PT-1

The state was supposed to rehabilitate them. Instead, hundreds of children were allegedly abused in N.H.

Updated April 22, 2022

 MANCHESTER, NH  –  She didn’t cry when the pregnancy test came back positive.  She didn’t scream or shout or attempt to explain to officials how she — a girl confined to New Hampshire’s state-run juvenile detention center  –  could have possibly become pregnant.

No one at the facility seemed all that interested in getting to the bottom of it, Michaela Jancsy says now.  And besides, the counselor had told her to keep quiet.

She’d met him a couple years after arriving at the facility as a 12-year-old facing assault charges, who had asked to be placed at the center rather than another group home.

He was in his 30s, she says, with a wife and at least one child, and tasked with keeping watch over the children of the detention center.  In a place where adults regularly ignored and tormented her, she saw him as a rare ally.  He sneaked her extra bottles of shampoo and would sometimes step in when other staffers got rough.  During one-on-one meetings in his office, he showered her with praise:  Others might not see her potential, he told her, but he did.

Within months, she says, he began driving her to a wooded area of Manchester, raping her, again and again, in the back seat of his pickup.

When the pregnancy test came back positive, Jancsy says, it was handled quietly;  aside from the nurse who administered the test, Jancsy recalls no one from the state facility approaching her to inquire about how it might’ve occurred.

Soon after, a staffer drove her to an off-site medical office.  A doctor provided two pills to terminate the pregnancy.  That night, she lay crying in her room, her stomach pulsing with pain, wishing for her mom.

Jancsy left the state-run facility at 17 and did her best to build a life.  She got married, had children, tried — with varying degrees of success — to bury deep the things that had happened at the youth detention center.

And they might’ve stayed buried, had she not turned on the television one evening not long ago to find a news report that took her back a decade and a half.

An investigation into the juvenile facility had been opened.  Authorities were looking for victims.

She picked up the phone.

For more than 150 years, the State of New Hampshire has funneled its troubled children to a sprawling correctional facility in northwest Manchester.  Through the years, it has housed a steady flow of youth offenders, the numbers fluctuating from less than a dozen at times to more than 150.

For some it may have proved a temporary haven, a place to transition from a broken life to a better one.  But many who spent time there depict it as a house of horrors.  Rampant sexual abuse by staffers, beatings so severe they broke bones.  Residents forced by staff to fight each other for food.  Solitary confinement stays that stretched for months.  The kind of violence that leaves lasting psychological damage, rippling through generations.

The stories of abuse have, for decades, stayed largely shielded from public view.  Hints of what went on inside the institution’s red-brick dormitories came in dribs and drabs  –  the rare termination of a problem employee, independent investigations that outlined the center’s disturbing culture but seemed to do little to curb mistreatment.

A reckoning is finally taking shape now.  And just as in some other cases of rampant child abuse  –  the clergy abuse scandal in Boston and in the Diocese of Manchester, for example  –  it is not the institutional hierarchy or government agencies that have led the way to accountability.  It is the victims themselves, the children grown to adulthood, demanding action and recompense and brave enough to share their stories, who have joined in civil lawsuits wending their way through the state court system.

More than 500 men and women have so far come forward with allegations of sexual or physical abuse at the hands of staff, a pattern of mistreatment spanning six decades.  At least 150 staffers have so far been implicated by alleged victims, according to court filings and attorneys for the plaintiffs.  The breadth of wrongdoing, experts say, has quietly approached or exceeded some of the country’s most high-profile child sexual abuse scandals.

“New England should be beyond outraged,” said Kathryn Robb, executive director of CHILD USAdvocacy, a group that advocates for child protection legislation.  “Outraged in flashing red lights.”

The alleged victims span generations and social strata.  Among those who have come forward: a New Hampshire state representative who has long been critical of the center’s history but who revealed in an interview with the Globe  –  for the first time publicly  –  that he, too, was sexually assaulted by a staff member during his time at the facility.

“It was essentially a youth prison,” said Cody Belanger, a 27-year-old Rockingham Republican, who was detained at the center at the age of 13 or 14.  “We felt that we weren’t worth anything, that they weren’t even going to bother listening to our concerns.”

For decades, he was right.  Few did.

Now, though, as the number of alleged victims continues to grow, state leaders are promising change.  A criminal investigation is underway, though officials say it could take years to complete.  State legislators are considering a massive settlement plan that would set aside $100 million for victims.

Governor Chris Sununu has said he wants the building — commonly known as the Youth Development Center, or YDC — razed, and some officials have called for it to be abandoned by next spring.  The governor’s link to the facility is personal as well as official: in 2006, it was renamed the Sununu Youth Services Center, after his father, former governor and White House chief of staff John H. Sununu.

A spokesman for the current governor told the Globe that Sununu has been “incredibly clear and vocal” that the allegations must be investigated and dealt with.

“We’re going to right what we need to right,” Sununu said during his State of the State address in February.  “And we’re designing for the future in a way that can be more sustainable and create a better product for all of us.”

Despite such recent acknowledgment of their demands for justice, however, former residents are pushing for more.  To date, they say, there has been no public apology from the state.  Eleven former workers have been charged with participating in the abuse, but no one in past YDC leadership has been forced to answer for the abuses that occurred at the facility under their watch.

Biden Administration Labels Parents Terrorists For Voicing Opinions At School Board Meetings

.jpg photo of Texas Attorney General LogoAG Paxton Sues Biden Administration for Silencing Parents, Labeling Them “Terrorists”

AUSTIN, TX  –  Attorney General Ken Paxton has joined Indiana in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit to force the Biden Administration to release documents that will shed light on its labeling parents domestic terrorists for voicing their opinions at school board meetings across the countryThe complaint focuses on the actions of the National School Boards Association (NSBA), reportedly committed in tandem with the White House and the Department of Justice (DOJ), when they accused parents across the United States of domestic terrorism last fall.

In a letter written to Attorney General Garland, the NSBA asked DOJ to invoke the Patriot Act to stifle parents from speaking up at school board meetings challenging their children’s indoctrination through liberal texts and racially charged, anti-white lessons, as well as the continuation of school mask mandates and remote learning.

There is no way the NSBA can justify why they referred to concerned parents across the country as ‘domestic terrorists’ when it is obvious that they are being targeted for their political beliefs,” Attorney General Paxton said.  “The Biden Administration cannot silence parents for exercising their constitutional rights and treat them like terrorists simply for having concerns about what their children are being taught.  I will not back down in this fight to preserve our kids’ hearts and minds, to protect the rights of parents to engage with their schools, and to prevent the Biden Administration’s oppressive actions.”

To read the complaint click here.

TX AG FAU Stops 3 Child Predators

.jpg photo of Texas Attorney General LogoPaxton’s Law Enforcement Round Up

The Fugitive Apprehension Unit made several noteworthy arrests last week.

In Travis County, Jose Antonio Garcia-Barriga was arrested in Austin on an outstanding warrant for Sexual Assault of a Child issued by the Austin Police Department.  This arrest was made on Aug. 6 while working in conjunction with the United States Marshals Lone Star Fugitive Task Force out of Austin.

In Travis County, Cesar Ambrosio Sanchez was arrested in Austin on an outstanding warrant for Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Child issued by the Austin Police Department. This arrest was made on Aug. 3 while working in conjunction with the United States Marshals Lone Star Fugitive Task Force out of Austin.

In Galveston County, Ismael Ruiz Jr. was arrested in Galveston on outstanding warrants for Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Child, Sexual Assault and Injury to a Child/Elderly/Disabled issued by the Galveston Police Department.  This arrest was made on Aug. 3 while working in conjunction with the Gulf Coast Violent Offender Task Force

TX AG FAU Takes Down Child Predator Fugitives, Violent Fugitive For Murder

.jpg photo of Texas Attorney General Logo
TX AG Fugitive Apprehension Unit Roundsup 2 Child Predators and a Fugitive on TX DPS Top 10 Most Wanted.

AG Paxton’s Law Enforce­ment Round Up

The Fugitive Apprehension Unit made several noteworthy arrests last week.

In Harris County, Leonard Dee Taylor was arrested in Houston on July 23 for failing to comply with his mandated sex offender registration requirements, and a corresponding warrant for Failure to Comply with Sex Offender Registration Requirements issued in 2018 out of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office.  Taylor was added to the Texas Department of Public Safety’s Top 10 Most Wanted Sex Offender List in May of 2019.  In 2003, Taylor was convicted of two counts of Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child in Bowie County and was sentenced to twenty years in prison.  This arrest was made while working in conjunction with the United States Marshals Service, Gulf Coast Violent Offender and Fugitive Task Force, and assisted by the Texas Department of Public Safety.

In Smith County, Dakevian Benoit Scroggins was arrested in Tyler on July 24 on outstanding warrants for Capitol Murder issued by the Tyler Police Department and Evading Arrest issued by the Rusk County Sheriff’s Office.  Scroggins was added to the Texas Department of Public Safety’s Top 10 Most Wanted in July of 2021.  In 2014, Scroggins was convicted of Prohibited Weapon in Smith County and was sentenced to 8 years in prison.  This arrest was made while working in conjunction with the Joint East Texas Fugitive Task Force, along with the Tyler Police Department and the Smith County Sheriff’s Office.

In Wharton County, Francisco Avalos was arrested in Louise on three outstanding warrants for Sexual Assault of a Child, Possession or Promotion of Child Pornography and Online Solicitation of a Minor issued by the Victoria County 377th District Court.  This arrest was made while working in conjunction with the United States Marshals Gulf Coast Violent Offenders Task Force out of Victoria.