Teen who sexually abused 5 yr old sent to facility for therapy not punishment
Tue, 19 Feb 2013 05:03:40 GMT —
An online video for the Pegasus Schools located 30 minutes south of Austin is a source of great frustration for a family still dealing with a punishment they call unjust.
The teenager who admitted to touching their 5 year old girl's genitals for his own sexual gratification last September after luring her away from a BBQ gets to call Pegasus home for the next 6 months.
While the sex offender treatment facility does boast an array of outdoor activities, the center's founder, Robert Ellis, says a vacation--this is not.
"I think the misconception, Ryan, is the word camp or that they're coming to some day camp or Disneyland and that is not the case whatsoever," he explained over the phone.
But he admits that it's also not a punishment facility either.
Robert says 175 kids, ages 10 to 17, who are either abusers or have been abused, receive therapy for sexual behavior issues.
A typical day starts at 6am with chores, breakfast, schooling and then a number counseling classes.
Community service is a big part of the program but so are fun activities too.
"We take them hiking," Robert said. "We take them fishing. We take them rock climbing. All of it is building their self-esteem back up."
The non-profit organization has been around since 1990 and is funded by tax-payer dollars.
Juvenile Probation Departments and Child Protective Services across some 50 Texas counties send kids to Pegasus.
Robert says there's an 82 percent success rate.
"The judges from around the state are going to put the kids here to give them one last chance to change their behavior that's it," he explained. "The kids that don't make it with us and they don't do well in the program and they don't apply themselves, then they're going to end up at TYC."
The ultimate goal at Pegasus is to stop the cycle of sexual abuse.
Once the Harlingen teen completes his time at the treatment center he will remain on probation until 18 years of age.
He's also not allowed to make contact with the victim or be around children under the age of 16, except while at school.
He was charged with improper sexual contact of a child under 17.
Two counts against him were dropped as part of the plea deal for the crime.
The victim's family pushed to have him register as a sex offender; however, the judge denied the request stating how he did not want to ruin the teen's life forever.
One legal analyst told Action 4 News that the juvenile system pushes more for rehabilitation rather punishment.
It's something the victim's family wants changed.
They plan to advocate the Texas Legislature for a harsher punishment for juvenile predators.
An attorney for the juvenile sent to the Pegasus Schools would not comment on Friday following the judge's ruling.
ENTIRE LETTER TO THE JUDGE FROM THE VICTIM TMS FAMILY:
Judge thank you for allowing us to be able to speak in your court this afternoon.Although I would never have wished to endure this nightmare, we are here.This past Labor Day weekend my little girl TMs life and that of my family changed forever.My 5 year old baby girl endured something she should never have gone through, but for whatever reason [NAME OMITTED] decided to prey on my little girl and take away her innocence, her spirit and trust and replaced it with nightmares, uneasiness and fear.
We trusted [NAME OMITTED] and he broke that trust when he decided to take her into that field and sexually abuse her.While the court has its different perspective on how far that abuse went, any kind of abuse should not be tolerated, much less be dismissed as a slap on the wrist.[NAME OMITTED] has endured nothing, but a couple of days in juvenile detention.Sending him to Pegasus is also not a punishment, he is getting sent to a place that will treat him as if he is on a vacation. Hiking, swimming, fishing and doing sports is in no way, shape or form a punishment for the crime he committed.
My daughter wakes up at nights, afraid her abuser will come to find her and hurt her for telling on him.She has restless nights, so extreme at time, that she cannot make school the next day| all thanks to him.My daughter had to undergo exams, that are for women because of him. She had to undergo STD testing because of him. She had to learn what is was to be violated and understand it at a very young age, because of him.
Through this entire ordeal, it is our opinion that he has been made the victim, that his needs have come before that of my daughter, who is the true victim in all of this, but somehow even those put in place to protect and defend her have seemed to forgotten.The system failed my daughter because laws don TMt protect her against predators like him, just because of his age| which all due respect, is unacceptable for us.While you can never really understand what we are going through, I ask you judge, with everything in me, to consider that [NAME OMITTED] register as a sex offender for his crime.
Thank you for your time.