Parents react as they receive news of Patrick Sanders arrest

By Holley Nees - bio | email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - "The children need positive role models.  They need someone to be there for them and for me, I'm the positive person sometimes.  My staff are the positive people and the constant person in their lives every day, they see us every day," said Patrick Sanders three years ago when he received the Service Above Self Award from the Angelina Rotary Club.  Wednesday night, he's behind bars, charged with crimes against a child victim.

"It's a shocking thing, it's a hurtful thing really because I know my kids.  My older daughter, she no longer goes, but she's really hurt by it and I think it's damaging to the kids," said Patricia Tolbert.

Another parent said, "I'm just shocked, you know. I really am shocked."

Parents were searching for words as they received the news of Sanders' arrest.

"Right now, I really can't say, but they sent a letter saying that it's going to be taken care of and safety is first for the children," said the parent.

The Executive Director of the Boys and Girls Club of Deep East Texas agrees.  Jeff Woods said "The safety of our children is the most important thing, and we want parents to feel comfortable bringing their kids to the Boys and Girls Club. Our staff is very qualified and able to handle the operation in his absence."

Police made the arrest after someone at the club reportedly saw the images on his computer.

The arrest affadavit said some of the images were of a nude 17-year-old boy, that Sanders admitted to taking at his home several months ago.

Woods said, "We take these allegations very seriously. We put Mr. Sanders on leave once we knew of the investigation, which was yesterday."

Many people in the community that work closely with the club said it is not a reflection of the organization itself.

Bob Brown the President of Angelina County United Way said, "The Boys and Girls Club is not one individual.  It is a group, a great group of kids with a strong board."

Rev. Napolean Shaw said, "I will be in prayer for Patrick and I will be praying for the children as well, hoping for the best for the children."

Some parents are worried.

"You trust your children being in [the] care of someone else," the parent said.

As children stepped off the bus into the care of the Boys and Girls Club Wednesday afternoon, one mom knows who comes first.

"I mean, your children are your number one concern," she said. "It's hard to hear news like that, but I'm pretty sure it's going to be taken care of. Until then, I'll just keep a close eye and take care of my children."

Some were in disbelief and wanted proof.

"I'm a firm believer in innocent until proven guilty," a parent said. "I've known Patrick for years so we'll see what comes out of this. I hope it's untrue."

It won't change his opinion of the Boys and Girls Club.

"If it's true, then one bad seed isn't going to spoil the whole bushel of apples," a parent said.

Patrick Sanders, the Director of the Boys and Girls club of Lufkin, is not to be confused with the person of the same name with Nacogdoches Head Start.

Sanders has been arrested on three counts of sexual performance by a child and three counts of possession of child pornography.

Sanders is on leave from the Boys and Girls Club without pay. The executive director said he will be terminated.  Wednesday night, Sanders remains behind bars, in lieu of a $300,000 bond.