Saturday, August 21, 2010

Ex-detention center worker wasn't supposed to travel alone with women

By Claire Osborn | Friday, August 20, 2010, 02:12 PM

This story has been corrected to say that Dunn was a resident supervisor at the T. Don Hutto facility.

A former resident supervisor at the T. Don Hutto Residential Center wasn’t supposed to be traveling alone with the women he has been accused of groping, said John Foster, a spokesman for the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office.

Donald Charles Dunn, 30, has been charged with two counts of official oppression and three counts of unlawful restraint in connection with five incidents involving women in Williamson County, said Foster.

Dunn was arrested Thursday and was released from the Williamson County Jail on $35,000 bail today.

According to the contract that Williamson County had with the Corrections Corporation of America, which runs the immigrant detention facility in Taylor, a corrections employee is not supposed to transport a detainee of the opposite sex without another employee present, Foster said.

No details were available Friday on how Dunn managed to not comply with that restriction.
Dunn, who was a resident supervisor and employee of the Corrections Corporation of America, drove 72 men, women and children to Austin-Bergstrom International Aiport from the detention facility during 2009 and 2010, Foster said. Detectives working with immigration officials interviewed 19 women and found that eight said Dunn had touched them inappropriately, including three from Travis County and five from Williamson County, Foster said.
A call to the Travis County attorney’s office on whether Dunn could face charges has not been immediately returned.

Investigators looked for victims across the country, including to Washington, D.C., New York and Los Angeles, but could not find 30 of the women Dunn drove to the airport, Foster said. Detectives were able to ascertain that no abuses occurred when Dunn wasn’t driving alone with women, Foster said.

Investigators were tipped off to the case May 11 when one of the women that Dunn took to the airport asked an airport employee if “it was normal” to be frisked like Dunn touched her, Foster said.

Dunn is accused of touching the female detainees near their breasts and genitals, officials said. Several times while taking women who had been released on bond to the airport, he would stop at a Conoco gas station in Coupland on FM 973 and ask the women to get out of the van, Foster said. He would then frisk them while they stood outside the van, Foster said. When interviewed by detectives Dunn said “he would frisk the females from the front and rear over their clothes,” including touching their bras, according to an arrest affidavit.

A spokesman for the Corrections Corporation of America, Steve Owen, said he couldn’t comment on how Dunn was able to violate the company’s contract with Williamson County by driving the women alone to the airport.

“Since we became aware of the allegation we immediately cooperated fully with law enforcement,” he said.