Catholic Charities of Houston-Galveston accused of covering up sex abuse incident

Oh brother, here we go again!

Readers may not know that the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Refugee Resettlement doles out federal grants to all sorts of agencies and “church” groups to care for abandoned immigrant minors who have either entered the country illegally on their own, or been dumped by illegal immigrant or refugee parents on the move.  For more on ORR’s programs for unaccompanied minors, go here.

Turns out Texas has thousands of them (LOL! wanting a taxpayer supported college education I’m sure, but that’s another story).

This story is about how a multi-million dollar federally funded Catholic Charities agency in Houston is in deep doo-doo after allegedly attempting to cover up a sexual abuse incident last summer.

Here is some of the shocking report at the Houston Chronicle:

Senior management with Catholic Charities attempted to mislead federal officials about a sexual assault at St. Michael’s Home for Children, doctoring incident reports and failing to seek medical treatment for the child victim for days, according to a federal report.

The report, obtained by the Houston Chronicle, and a letter from the director of the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) detailed the findings of a federal investigation into a July 1 sexual assault at the north Houston shelter for immigrant children.

Managers with Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston “deliberately misled” federal officials about the incident, which involved the anal penetration of a child at the shelter and implicated two other youths housed there, according to federal documents.

The findings prompted ORR, which places children and teenagers caught crossing the border without family members into temporary care, to begin removing all the children and teens from the three area St. Michael’s shelters run by Catholic Charities – a process still under way.

In a statement issued Friday, Catholic Charities officials said that “when Catholic Charities learned of ORR’s concerns, the individual employee at St. Michael’s responsible for those concerns was subsequently terminated.”

“Catholic Charities is working with ORR and has every expectation that it will meet ORR’s recommendations and address its concerns and reopen the St. Michael’s Program soon,” the statement said.

The statement also said that Catholic Charities reported the sexual assault to Texas Department of Family and Protective Services officials within 24 hours of the incident, though state records show the incident was “self-reported” by the shelter on July 13.

Federal investigators conducted an unannounced site visit in August to investigate the sexual assault, reporting that the Catholic Charities senior management doctored initial reports to omit details of the sexual assault and tried to pressure staff not to disclose details of the incident to “protect the program,” according to the report.

“The ORR monitors found significant concerns, including the fact that management had full knowledge of the extent of the assault and submitted erroneous … reports to this office, which deliberately misled ORR,” the agency’s director wrote in a Sept. 8 letter to the president of Catholic Charities.

ORR moving the kids out.

On Sept. 8, ORR’s director sent a letter to Bonna Kol, the president of Catholic Charities Galveston-Houston, detailing the results of the investigation and saying the agency planned to remove all of the children from the organization’s care until the “corrective actions” called for in its report were addressed.

St. Michaels says with federal money (taxpayer funding) cutbacks they are closing anyway.

Joanie Wentz, vice president of development and communications for the organization, insisted the closure was not related to the July 1 incident. She said the St. Michael’s program, which is approaching its 25th anniversary, suffered a $1 million cut from the federal government in the last budget, reducing the number of beds from 88 to 52 and resulting in the layoffs of 19 employees.

The other day I told you about how much federal money was going to Catholic Charities of Ft. Worth, here—enough for  the creation of fiefdom, but chicken scratch compared to the Houston CC!   Check out how much government money goes to Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Houston-Galveston, the one crying poor mouth now.  Here is their most recently published Form 990.   Out of a gross income of $29 million, you, the taxpayers gave them $21 million that year!

So how many abandoned immigrant kids are there?  The Houston Chronicle goes on to report:

U.S. immigration officials placed 6,074 immigrant and refugee children in the care of ORR in 2009, the most recent data available. More than half of those – some 3,200 – were detained in Texas, the statistics show. [And, they need to go to college subsidized by you too—no they didn’t say that!—ed]

The Houston Chronicle reporter did a very detailed piece so I recommend you read the whole thing.

We have written a lot about problems in Houston, check out all the posts, here, where Houston is mentioned.

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