Crockett police: Serenity Place probe turned over to state to conduct admin discipline

Source: KTRE Staff
Source: KTRE Staff

CROCKETT, TX (KTRE) - The Crockett Police Department has turned over their investigation into a foster children placement facility to a state department, so it can determine violations from an administrative standpoint.

Police announced in late November they were investigating Serenity Place following numerous allegations of abuse and neglect of foster children.

On Tuesday, police announced their investigation revealed not only possible criminal violations, but also some violations which do not meet the elements of a criminal offense but of an administrative investigation.

Lt. Clayton Smith sent the following letter to the Department of Family Protective Services:

"The file that you have received with this letter contains multiple investigations that have been performed by the Crockett Police Department. Some of these cases meet the elements of a criminal offense and some do not. There are multiple incidents that meet the elements of an administrative investigation as the burden of proof is only 'preponderance' and not 'beyond a reasonable doubt.' There are cases involving staff assaults on youth, youth assaults on staff, lack of supervision incidents, allegations of sexual assault, and allegations of sexual misconduct. With many of these cases the Department of Family and Protective Services would have evidence of numerous administrative violations. This would include witness statements, current staff statements, former staff statements, forensic interviews from youth. Our files will show evidence of an apparent lack of supervision and will show suspicious activity from the facility regarding the accurate and truthful documentation of staff and youth incidents, personnel files, falsification of training records, and false drug testing documentation. Much of the administrative wrong doing was reported by a current administrator who felt the information needed to be given so that the proper steps are taken by DFPS. This information will be turned over to Houston County Prosecutors, DFPS- Commissioner Hank Whitman, Associate Commissioner Jean Shaw, and Texas Department of Public Safety- Texas Rangers. These files are being turned over so that DFPS can utilize the information for an in-depth administrative investigation so that the children in this facility are kept safe and in a protective environment due to the potential violations that have been uncovered and detailed in the attached report(s)."

As for the criminal investigation, the Crockett Police Department has turned its investigation over to the respective prosecutors' offices.

Serenity Place opened in Crockett on July 21. In a three-month time frame, police received 52 calls for service. Some were minor in nature, and others showed a pattern of serious abuse and neglect.

Serenity Place COO Chris Brown released the following statement:

"Without specifics, it is difficult to refute. I think I have the utmost confidence the DFPS will do their investigation, and you will find these allegations, like all the others are unfounded. It is not unheard of that ex-employees who have been terminated, disgruntled employees, and others who are upset we did not hire relatives have an ax to grind. Our records have been reviewed numerous times by DFPS. It looks like the witch hunt continues."

Copyright 2016 KTRE. All rights reserved.