Saturday, August 21, 2010

KXAN: Eight Victims ID'd in Hutto Guard Case

Eight victims ID'd in Hutto guard case
Tensions mounting between facility, county

Updated: Friday, 20 Aug 2010, 5:22 PM CDT
Published : Friday, 20 Aug 2010, 9:21 AM CDT

Jackie Vega
TAYLOR, Texas (KXAN) - Williamson County authorities said Friday that eight victims had been identified in connection with a former transport officer at the T. Don Hutto immigration detention facility , who police say groped several women he was supposed to be taking to airports and bus stations.

No sexual assault charges have been filed, however -- although Williamson County officials said they may be later on.

Currently, Donald Charles Dunn, 30, faces three charges of official oppression and two charges of unlawful restraint in connection with five victims police said were molested in Williamson County.

Charges have not yet been filed in connection with three more victims authorities said were attacked in Travis County.

President Obama and Congressional members have been briefed on this case because of its association with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

Nineteen women have been interviewed so far, from Texas to Florida to Washington D.C., and another 11 still could be victims -- though they haven't been located. In his year of employment at the Taylor facility, Dunn transported 72 people from the facility - where they were being bonded out -- to airports or bus stations, so they could wait for their immigration hearings in locations near family or friends or employment.

Thirty of the people he transported were women.

Williamson County officials said that they were tightening their grip over the facility being run by the Corrections Corporation of America after it was discovered during the investigation that Dunn was not supposed to be transporting those women alone -- but that the facility was required, for the women's safety, to have two officers on board the vehicle with the detainees.

CCA is a private, for-profit company that runs jail and detention facilities, and has come under fire for cutting corners.

Dunn was arrested in Austin Thursday after police said he admitted stopping the van during the early morning trips, at locations in Williamson and Travis counties, and touching them inappropriately for his own "self gratification."

Dunn, a resident supervisor at the facility and employee of Correction Corporation of America, told officers that on these trips, "he told the women he was going to 'frisk' them and then inappropriately touched their breasts, crotch and buttocks," according to a news release by the Williamson County Sheriff's Office.

"Mr. Dunn indicated to Detectives that he had done this to numerous other women while performing his duties as a transport officer," the release said.

Dunn told officers he had done this with several women, while he was transporting them late at night, and would stop at several locations in Williamson and Travis counties to abuse them on the way to Austin Bergstrom International Airport.

The women were being given the rides to the airport and bus stations as a courtesy while they were out on bond, awaiting immigration hearings.

The first report came on May 11 when Austin police told Williamson County Sheriff's deputies that a woman had alerted an airport official that she had been abused on the way to the airport from the facility in Taylor. That's when detectives met with Dunn and listened to his description of groping "numerous women" while doing his duties as a transport officer.

"A large scale investigation into the current locations of other possible victims began immediately after Mr. Dunn’s interview," the news release said. "Detectives from Williamson County and Immigration and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Office of Professional Responsibility/San Antonio) set out to make contact with several of the possible victims, who had located across the country since bonding out of the facility.

"Mr. Dunn was subsequently terminated from his contract employment with Correction Corporation of America when the allegation was first reported to authorities."

The investigation revealed that all of the possible victims of Dunn had been released on bond from the facility and were being transported to the Austin-Bergstrom Airport or bus station when the attacks occurred.

It was during these "courtesy transports" that Dunn would stop at different locations in the areas of both Travis and Williamson County.

Three women said they'd been inappropriately touched.Two of those victims said they were taken against their will to a location near a convenience store, during which one woman said she thought she'd either be killed or raped.

"Several (other) women who were interviewed denied any contact with Mr. Dunn," the statement read. "Some of those advised that they were transported in the daylight hours and or it was raining. Several women could not be located for questioning because of out of date addresses with Immigration and Customs Enforcement."

Dunn was arrested Thursday around 5 p.m. and posted bail on a $35,000 bond Friday.

The investigation is still ongoing at this time. Anyone having information about a victim or Dunn’s crimes is encouraged