AUSTIN (KXAN) - Two Austin men face charges of sexual assault of a child against a 13-year-old girl who had run away from a home for young people in crisis. That home is now under investigation by the Residential Child Care Licensing.
According to arrest warrant affidavits released Thursday, Juan Lozano Ortega, 24, and 26-year-old Edgar Geraldo Guzman Perez saw the girl walking near Peyton Gin Road and Galewood Drive on the night of June 29. She had left the Settlement Home for Children not long before that, the document said.
The two men and another man offered the girl a ride and took her to the apartment they shared off Rundberg Lane. Several other men were at the apartment at the time, according to the affidavit.
The affidavit said Ortega and Perez sexually assaulted the girl while others took cell phone video. Then the other men sexually assaulted her, the document said.
The men later took the girl and dropped her off in a place she was unfamiliar with, according to the affidavit. She asked if she could borrow a phone to call for help. Ortega obliged, the affidavit said. His number was captured by caller ID.
After the girl made it back to the Settlement Home, she reported what had happened. Police used the number captured by caller ID and the girl's recollection of events as leads to find Ortega and Perez.
Bail for both men was set at $300,000. They are being held on an Immigration and Naturalization Service detainer.
Meanwhile, the Texas Department of Family Protective Services said Thursday that it is investigating how the 13-year-old left Settlement Home.
According the department's website, Settlement Home was found deficient on seven items during inspections since 2011. Among the deficiencies found were failure to report a suicide attempt until three weeks after it happened, failure to immediately report that one of its children was arrested and failure to dispose of expired medications.
KXAN reached out to Settlement Home Residental Treatment Center Director Michael Downing. He did not want to respond to questions regarding the supervisory or security arrangements in place to watch the children in his care or how many reside at the campus.
A spokesperson at the Texas Department of Family Protective Services , familiar with Settlement House told KXAN the facility does not necessarily lock down its clients. There are some older than 18 who live in apartments on the facility's 10-acre campus and are free to come and go, said Julie Moody.
Austin Police reports show 80 calls for runaways at Settlement Home since 2010:
- 2010: 20
- 2011: 44
- 2013: 16 thus far
There are also other children's group homes that provide a more intimate environment. But the goal is the same - to offer lost, abandoned or parent-less kids a second chance.
The Executive Director of the Central Texas Children's Home in Buda says his goal is to provide a loving environment where no child wants to run away. If they do take off, then return he says he is always forgiving.
"We hug them first of all and tell them we're glad they're safe. We want to tell them it's not the right way to respond to life when it gets tough," said Hagan who has been working with lost, abandoned or parentless children for 22 years.
"It takes a special kind of person to live in that house 24 hours a day, give them the love and attention they need," he said.
Hagan says at his home, he works with his front line staff so they understand the signals from a child planning to run away. And how to intervene before that happens.
"When it does happen we have to make sure we do the proper reporting to the state," he said. "We make sure we do the proper training with our staff before it happens and if it does happen (ask ourselves) what do we learn from this so it doesn't happen again."
The judge presiding over the trial to oust District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg ruled Wednesday that she'll stay in office.
Mack Brown’s longtime friend and attorney said Wednesday that the veteran coach of the Longhorns has not yet made a decision on his future, but that it will come soon.
The Austin City Council will take up billing errors and problems with the appeals process at Austin Energy during Thursday's meeting.
Options for high speed Internet in Austin continue to expand. Google Fiber is coming to Austin soon, and now AT&T has announced the city will be the first for its own faster-than-ever Internet speeds.
A 15-year-old girl told police she was abducted from the parking lot at Bastrop High School on Wednesday.
After hundreds of park-goers complained about a lack of off-leash dog space in the new design of Auditorium Shores, the Austin Parks and Recreation Board is hoping a compromise will alleviate any concerns.