A federal judge said in an emergency hearing Thursday that employees of a state-funded shelter meant to help female victims of sex trafficking were revictimizing them.
An employee of The Refuge Ranch in Bastrop, Texas, was accused of selling inappropriate photographs of the two children. That money was allegedly used to buy illegal drugs and alcohol that were given to the children.
A statement from The Refuge said that when they were alerted about the actions of that employee by two other employees on Jan. 24, they terminated the accused employee and contacted law enforcement authorities.
But the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services is investigating further allegations of whether other employees of the organization also participated in the abuse of the children.
After the Jan. 24 accusations, the DFPS received accusations of human trafficking by eight victims at the facility.
As many as nine employees are accused of victimizing seven children at The Refuge, according to the Texas Tribune. The children reportedly ranged from age 11 to 17.
Additionally, the DFPS is being accused of allowing the trafficking victims to stay at The Refuge for five weeks after the first documented report of sexual abuse.
Nine of the children who were at the facility at the time have been removed.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said in a statement Thursday that the Texas Rangers would investigate the heinous charges.
“The reports of child sex trafficking at The Refuge in Bastrop are abhorrent,” said Abbott. “Child abuse of any kind won’t be tolerated in the state of Texas, and we are committed to ensuring these despicable perpetrators are brought to justice and punished to the fullest extent of the law. No child should ever suffer the atrocities of trafficking. I expect a thorough and prompt investigation by the Texas Rangers into these horrific crimes.”
One former employee has been arrested and more arrests are expected.
Here’s a local news report about the accusations:
Bastrop facility under investigation for human trafficking