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Latino Daily News

Tuesday September 27, 2011

Children’s Home Tried to Cover Up Reports of Sexual Assault of Immigrant, Refugee Children

Children’s Home Tried to Cover Up Reports of Sexual Assault of Immigrant, Refugee Children

Photo: Children's Home Tried to Cover Up Reports of Sexual Assault of Immigrant, Refugee Children

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An investigation by the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) found that senior management at Catholic Charities tried to cover up claims of assault at a St. Michael’s Home for Children, going so far as to doctor incident reports and not taking a child victim to receive medical treatment for a number of days, and only after they were ordered to do so by federal officials.

Federal officials with the ORR have removed immigrant children from three shelters run by the Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston after the July 1 sexual assault of a minor.

ORR places children and teenagers caught crossing the border without family members into temporary care. Since the sexual assault, they have begun removing all youth from the three area St. Michael’s shelters run by Catholic Charities.

The agency stated, “CCGH staff had knowledge that a [child] had been anally penetrated as the result of a sexual assault … and did not seek medical treatment. Program staff should have observed that a sexual assault of a child is grounds for immediate medical attention.”

During a surprise visit to the site of the assault in August, it was discovered that initial reports of the incident were changed.

A letter from the ORR’s director to the president of the Catholic Charities stated, “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.”

Friday, Catholic Charities issued a statement saying 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.”