AUSTIN, Texas — “There is no evidence that any of the residents at the Refuge shelter have ever been sexually abused or trafficked while at the shelter,” Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw wrote in a letter to Gov. Greg Abbott.
The Refuge for DMST (domestic minor sex trafficking) is a nonprofit that helps girls ages 11-17 who were sex trafficked.
Information submitted to and given in federal district court claimed several girls were trafficked by nine employees.
McCraw wrote there was no sexual abuse and no human trafficking. He wrote the federal court monitor “identified material inaccuracies and contained information that had not been properly verified.”
Two major incidents of misconduct did happen at the shelter, though.
KVUE told you last week how a former Refuge employee obtained nude photographs of two girls .
In the letter to the governor, McCraw wrote the photos were for “the alleged purpose of selling them for cash and/or drugs.” The employee was fired immediately. No arrest has been made.
In a separate incident, on Feb. 20, two different girls escaped the facility. The shelter got a tip that some employees helped them escape and reported the crime to Bastrop Sheriff’s Office and the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.
Four employees were fired. An arrest was made in the escape case for making a false statement to the FBI.
“There were no allegations or evidence that these residents were sexually abused or assaulted by anyone,” McCraw wrote.
Refuge founder and CEO Brooke Crowder released the following statement Wednesday:
"We are deeply relieved by the Texas Rangers' findings reported in today's letter from the Department of Public Safety to Gov. Abbott. We are grateful to state leaders for maintaining an intense focus on the issues related to interdicting sex trafficking and supporting us in our efforts to protect and rehabilitate the victims that enter our care. We are committed to continued close cooperation with DPS, the Texas Department of Family Protective Services and the Bastrop County Sheriff's Office as they pursue justice for the girls involved in the cited incidents."
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