MONAHANS, Texas – A West Texas grand jury indicted two former Texas Youth Commission employees Tuesday on charges that they sexually abused teenage inmates in the most serious charges to emerge from the youth prison scandal.
Former Principal John Paul Hernandez was indicted on 11 charges related to sexual contact he had with students at the West Texas State School. Former Assistant Superintendent Ray E. Brookins was indicted on one count each of having improper sexual activity with a person in custody and having an improper relationship between a student and educator.
Texas Rangers arrested the men Tuesday. Bail was set at $600,000 for Hernandez and $100,000 for Brookins.
The indictments were issued more than two years after a lengthy Texas Ranger report detailing the allegations of abuse at the West Texas State School was handed over to a local prosecutor who has since come under fire for not taking the case to a grand jury sooner.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, whose office took over the case, announced the 13 indictments after the grand jury adjourned.
The local prosecutor, Randall W. Reynolds, has recused himself from the case after widespread criticism that he failed to act on a March 2005 Rangers report detailing the allegations against Brookins and Hernandez.
Reynolds was not in court Tuesday, but issued a statement saying the criticism was unfair.
"I find it ironic in view of statewide media coverage faulting me for not moving fast enough on the TYC Pyote case, now that the AG's office is involved, it is reported to me that five to 10 attorneys and staff...including the AG himself, are presently in Ward County regarding a grand jury meeting," Reynolds wrote. "This demonstrates the seriousness and complexity of the case, and yet myself, as a part-time country DA, has been faulted for not doing it all in the time the media deemed appropriate."
Brookins and Hernandez were allowed to quietly quit their jobs amid the Ranger investigation in early 2005.
Since news reports of the allegations surfaced earlier this year, a statewide scandal has ensued and numerous top TYC officials, including the executive director and the agency's board, have resigned.
The case has also prompted a West Texas State School teacher to seek the removal of Reynolds from office. Reynolds, meanwhile, has filed a similar motion against Ward County Attorney Kevin Acker because of Acker's criticism of him.