Tuesday, April 10, 2007

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Ward County Grand Jury Indicts Two Former West Texas State School Administrators

MONAHANS – A Ward County grand jury today returned 13 indictments against two former West Texas State School administrators for improper sexual conduct with six students, ages 16-19. Law enforcement officers with the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) and the Texas Rangers arrested the two former officials following the indictments Tuesday morning.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and OAG prosecutors today appeared before the grand jury to present charges against former Texas Youth Commission officials Ray Edward Brookins and John Paul Hernandez.

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Ray Brookins

John Hernandez
Motion to Recuse and Appoint District Attorney Pro Tem

Brookins, 42, former assistant superintendent at West Texas State School, was indicted on two counts of improper relationship with a student, a second-degree felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison. The grand jury also indicted Brookins on two counts of improper sexual activity with a person in custody, a state jail felony punishable by up to two years in state prison. Law enforcement officers arrested Brookins at his Austin residence.

Hernandez, 41, former West Texas State School principal, was indicted on one count of sexual assault, a second-degree felony. The grand jury also indicted him on nine counts of improper sexual activity with a person in custody and nine counts of improper relationship with a student. Law enforcement officers arrested Hernandez at his parents’ residence in Fort Stockton.

“With today’s indictments, the victims of sexual abuse at West Texas State School are a step closer to the justice they deserve,” Attorney General Abbott said. “We are grateful to the grand jury for their diligent attention to this very troubling matter. The Office of the Attorney General will continue working with state and local officials to aggressively pursue allegations of wrongdoing at Texas Youth Commission facilities. Throughout this difficult process, we ask that everyone respect the privacy of the victims involved in this case.”

The Ward County district attorney requested prosecutorial assistance on Jan. 17, 2007, thereby granting the OAG authority to prosecute allegations of criminal conduct at West Texas State School, a Texas Youth Commission facility in Pyote. On April 4, 2007, Presiding Judge Bob Parks of the 143rd Judicial District Court granted the OAG sole authority to investigate and prosecute allegations of abuse at the Ward County facility. Judge Parks appointed the OAG “District Attorney Pro Tem” after the local district attorney recused himself from the case.