One guard in Dallas County’s Medlock Youth Treatment Center watched football in a boss’s office. Another sat with her back to the kids. Many others kept their eyes glued to their phones or left the room unattended. During these times, boys locked up for sex offenses in Dallas County had ample opportunity to engage in sex acts with one another from November through April, according to a damning report by a state watchdog issued this week, the Dallas Morning News reports. The report found conditions at the center to be far worse than county officials have portrayed.
The sexual contact among juvenile detainees continued because of a “lack of concern regarding safety, security and welfare” of the kids, says the report from the independent ombudsman for the Texas Juvenile Justice Department. At least five boys ages 13 to 17 engaged in the sex acts, including oral sex, investigators found. The incidents occurred while the youths were being forced to sleep on mattresses on the floor of a multipurpose room during periods of understaffing. The report said the youths slept on the floor — where they were aware of the gaps in supervision — for most nights over a period of six months. County Commissioner John Wiley Price, who requested the investigation, called for the firing of the Juvenile Justice Department’s executive director, Terry Smith.