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Sex Offender Guard Fired in Texas Youth Prisons Abuse Probe

Associated Press | March 08, 2007

The state's probe into sexual abuse allegations in the Texas youth prison system has resulted in the firing of a correctional officer who is a convicted sex offender.

David Andrew Lewis, 23, was fired Wednesday from the Texas Youth Commission's Coke County Juvenile Justice Center, an all-male facility, several newspapers reported.

State leaders on Tuesday dispatched law enforcement officials to all 22 youth facilities and the commission's headquarters to investigate claims of sexual abuse of inmates by employees.

Ed Owens, the commission's acting executive director, said a facility employee had warned agency officials months ago that Lewis was a sex offender, but the officials didn't act on the matter.

The facility, about 30 miles northeast of Angelo in the town of Bronte, is run by the private contractor GEO Group. GEO Group officials could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Lewis was 15 when he was convicted in 1999 of indecency by exposure with a 5-year-old girl, according to a Texas Department of Public Safety Web site listing sex offenders. He is required to register annually as a sex offender.

Spokesman Tim Savoy said the agency's contracts with the private operators prohibit hiring registered sex offenders, but the agency doesn't "have any control over who they hire."

Jay Kimbrough, who was appointed last week by Gov. Rick Perry to be the youth commission's special master, said his investigation will include re-running background checks on all youth commission employees to confirm their status.

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