Day 43 of Rick Perry Refusing to Debate: What Did Perry Know About Latest Child Abuse Scandal?

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“Accountability starts at the top, and it's the governor's obligation to know what is going on in his state agencies,” White said. “The governor needs to be looking out for Texas kids. As governor, I would do everything in my power to guarantee their safety, and to ensure that crimes against children are punished to the fullest extent of the law.”

On April 26, 2010, Rick Perry first said he'd refuse to debate until Bill White released his tax returns:

“If he releases his tax returns, we'll be happy to talk about debate dates,” said Miner.

Now that Bill White has released his tax returns, Rick Perry must agree to debate. And there are many questions he will have to answer — questions we will be highlighting every day until the Texas press corps finally asks them and Rick Perry finally answers them.

First and foremost are questions about what Rick Perry knew about the 250 cases of abuse and mistreatment at residential treatment centers in Houston, which the Texas Tribune and Houston Chronicle reported on over the weekend

Residential treatment center records reviewed by the Chronicle and the Tribune show state investigators confirmed hundreds of violations from mid-2008 through April of this year — at least 250 of them involving abuse, neglect and mistreatment. All of those centers remain in operation today.

Workers choked and punched kids to get them to behave. Children who were supposed to be supervised attempted suicide. Kids were threatened with corporal punishment and forced to strip down to their underwear so they wouldn’t run away. In some cases, residents engaged in sexual acts with peers, with staff members and, in one case, with a staffer’s relative.

The Department of Family Protective Services, which investigated the cases, claims to have notified law enforcement of some of the cases, yet can offer no proof:

DFPS officials say they referred the Daystar matter to local law enforcement. But both the Manvel Police Department and the Brazoria County Sheriff’s Office say they never received any notification.

DFPS refused to release the report it filed with law enforcement and said it couldn't prove notification was sent; the agency deletes all faxed records after 30 days.

The cover-up by the Department of Family Protective Services is unacceptable. It is, however, the latest in a series of cover-ups carried out by Rick Perry's state agencies. As Joe Holley of the Houston Chronicle noted in his quick story yesterday, “White claims Perry presides over scandal parade”:

White, in a statement, pointed to the 2007 Texas Youth Commission sexual abuse scandal and the fight club scandal that surfaced a year ago at Corpus Christi State School, a facility operated by the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services. Perry's office took action in both cases after the media brought both to light.

With the latest scandal, Rick Perry must answer the questions:

  • When was Rick Perry and his office told about the child abuse at residential treatment centers?
  • What was he told about, and what actions did he take to investigate the instances?
  • If Perry didn't know about it, why did the state agency he oversees not tell him about it, and what will he do to ensure that never happens again in the future?

Those questions should be asked, unless the press corps also doesn't talk about fight club:

 

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About Author

Phillip Martin

Currently the Research and Policy Director for Progress Texas and the Texas Research Institute, Phillip Martin writes occasional long-form pieces for BOR that promote focused analysis and insight into Texas politics. Born and raised in Austin, Phillip started working in politics in 2003 and started writing on BOR in the summer of 2005. Phillip has worked for the Texas Democratic Trust, the Texas Legislative Study Group, and now the Progress Texas family. He is a lifelong Houston Astros fan, a loyal Longhorn, and loves swimming at Barton Springs Pool.

6 Comments

  1. Baby Snooks on

    On to the debate!
    And no doubt Rick Perry's first question will be what Bill White's “adjusted gross income” of $4.6 million in 2005 was from. Or from whom.

  2. well…
    Release those tax returns from BEFORE 2004, and there will be a debate.

    What is White trying to hide? Unscrupulous business practices, obviously…he released some records, sure – just not ones the Perry campaign is demanding (the ones that have some records he'd rather not let Texas voters see).

    The Bill White campaign better get used to Perry's pounding, because he is relentless and will not let the issue go until those records, pre-2004, are released.  

    • Why is Perry running scared?
      Bill White is clearly not trying to hide anything. Perry's campaign is moving the goalposts from their original requests. Why are they running scared from a debate?

      • Apparently he is…
        Apparently he is trying to hide some little conflicts-of-interest as they're called. Tied to his investments.  

      • Why are they running scared from a debate?


        Did you see the Republicker's primary debates?  

        It was obvious how he can get along with Sarah Palin and her rational analysis.  The lights were on, but the rheostat was turned down l-o-w.

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