Thursday, November 11, 2010

Former guard: Policy violations ignored

Updated: Tuesday, 09 Nov 2010, 10:35 PM CST
Published : Tuesday, 09 Nov 2010, 9:43 PM CST

TAYLOR (KXAN) - A former resident supervisor at the T. Don Hutto immigrant detention facility in Taylor said policy violations at the facility were ignored, leading to several women being abused by another former guard, Donald Charles Dunn, 30.

Dunn was sentenced to less than a year in prison for groping five women detainees - as part of a plea deal. He will also spend two years on probation.

Kim Wyatt left her job at the Taylor facility earlier this year, but said she was not surprised by the charges against her former co-worker, Dunn.

"I am so, so upset about what he did," said Wyatt from her home in Missouri. "These women were entrusted to us and the job that he had was taking them to the airport or bus stations - they were going home to their families- they weren't being transported out of the country- they were going home."

Investigators said Dunn admitted stopping the van during the early morning transports, at locations in Williamson and Travis counties, and touching the women inappropriately for his own "self gratification."

Dunn, a former resident supervisor at the facility and employee of Correction Corporation of America, told officers that on these trips, "he told the women he was going to 'frisk' them and then inappropriately touched their breasts, crotch and buttocks," according to a news release by the Williamson County Sheriff's Office.

But Wyatt said that should not have happened, because Dunn should never have been alone with the detainees.

"A lot of the runs he did right before I left, he was alone with the women and we had enough resident supervisors on certain nights that they could have sent a female with him or they could have sent a female instead of him on several of them," she said.

Policy at the T. Don Hutto facility was clear that male resident supervisors were never to be alone with female detainees, a policy violation Wyatt said she reported to her supervisors, and was ignored.

"I wish she would have contacted us and told us- about this red flag you know because that would have alerted us that this person doesn't need to be in the position that they're in- or even be employed with CCA," said Williamson County Sheriff's Sergeant John Foster. "How could this happen? We spelled it out for them- don't do this."

Sgt. Foster is in charge of monitoring the facility and was appointed by Williamson County Commissioners.

"If one person would have followed those recommendations, we may not be here today," he said. "Mr. Dunn would not have had contact with any of those females."

Foster is referring to former Warden Evelyn Hernandez, who was fired by CCA shortly after the charges against Dunn came to light.

"As a taxpayer, you should care," said Jose Orta, a member of Lulac, and an outspoken critic of the facility. "This is $15,000 a day- and this is your money- your tax money."

Orta believes there should be more transparency at the facility and even more oversight. But Foster says that oversight already exists.

"They don't know when we're coming- I don't want them to know when we're coming, they don't know where we're going to go, we can walk up to any door and say open it and they have to open it," said Foster.

Wyatt is hopeful the change in leadership at the facility will prevent future incidents like the one involving Dunn. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials did not respond to repeated requests for comment on this story.

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