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wIcky is not a Pyote word. I knew it must have been something bad if they had no word for it.” TYC, continued from page 7 grievances filed by students were not being answered. According to TYC’s internal review, each of these allegations was eventually confirmed in the wake of the Rangers’ investigation: Security logs at the dorms documented that students were in fact being summoned by Brookins after hours; school records showed that a number of students had been held at the facility longer than necessary; and the office secretary reported that Brookins had bullied her into giving him the key to the student grievance box, to which he was not entitled to have access. Yet when Harris sent Lydia Barnard, a high-ranking director of juvenile corrections in Austin, to the facility to investigate Hollis’ complaints, she reported that each of them was unfounded. A former superintendent at San Saba, Barnard had once supervised Brookins and knew him well. In her official response to Hollis’ complaint, she chastised Hollis to do his job better and to be more supportive of Brookins. Shortly after this complaint was declared resolved, Pyote Superintendent Harrison took an extended medical leave, and the agency named Brookins acting superintendent of the school. He was now in charge of the entire facility. As Brookins’ power grew, staff morale deteriorated, according to the internal review. Key personnel began leaving, including the assistant principal and the director of clinical services, two of the highest-ranking administrators who had complained about Brookins and Hernandez. The number of student grievance letters addressed directly to Executive Director Harris in Austin increased dramatically. Staff in Austin began to suspect something was in fact wrong with the grievance system at Pyote, as student complaint forms were arriving in Austin out of sequence or not at all. On November 3, Kristin Pottenger, the head of human resources at Pyote, wrote an e-mail to the inspector general’s office in Austin complaining once again about Brookins’ late-night cleaning sessions. The internal review reflects that_ Lydia Barnard was made aware of this complaint. Pottenger declined to file a formal complaint against Brookins, however, for fear of retaliation, according to the internal review. By the beginning of February, staff morale had become so low at the unit, according to the internal review, that Chip Harrison was hastily brought back from medical leave and reinstated as superintendent. In an agency-wide e-mail announcing Harrison’s return, Lydia Barnard praised the work Brookins had done in his stead. “Mr. Brookins did an excellent job in the performance of these duties,” she wrote. \(In her original e-mail, obtained by the Observer, Barnard took the time to put “excellent and other Austin staff visited Pyote for a regularly scheduled facility review. The official report of that review gives no hint of the turmoil that was underway at the school. A few days after Harrison’s return, Marc Slattery, a volunteer math tutor from Midland, was approached by two students at the facility. “They asked me if they could talk to me about something \(icky,” he said later. “`Icky’ is not a Pyote word. I knew it must have been something bad if they had no word for it.” One of the students confided to Slattery that he had been victimized by Brookins. The boys also named five other students they said might have been victimized. Later that week, as Slattery was leaving the facility, he noticed a group of students being escorted into the administration building. It was 8:30 p.m., a halfhour after students were required to be in their dorms. He watched from outside the building through open blinds as the young men were escorted to the conference room next to Brookins’ office. The next day Slattery called the Texas Rangers in Ft. Stockton and talked to Ranger Brian Burzynski, who drove up to Pyote the same afternoon. Burzynski began questioning students about Brookins, but almost immediately the investigation expanded to include Hernandez. The two men were suspended, and the offices and homes of both suspects were searched. Within three weeks, TYC administrators in Austin had documented the following allegations, according to internal agency records: that Brookins had performed oral sex on an 18-year-old student; that he had watched another student masturbate; that he had inappropriately touched at least two other students; and that he talked to students about sex toys, penis pumps, and masturbation. They also learned that Hernandez was alleged to have had numerous sexual encounters with at least four students, aged 17 to 20, and that he had allegedly performed oral sex on each of them. Hernandez allegedly pulled students from classrooms and from dorms on weekends for dalliances in storage closets and restrooms, and for late-night parties in his office, where he plied students with popcorn and movies, according to a list of episodes confirmed by agency investigators. It seemed that the abuse had been going on for quite some time. The boys apparently did not come forward sooner, agency investigators concluded, because of the control the two men had over their release date and FEBRUARY 23, 2007 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 19