AUSTIN (KXAN) — More than a year after boys were removed from a nonprofit in Burnet County, the couple who ran it are facing trafficking charges.
A grand jury indicted Gary Wiggins, 49, and his wife Meghann Wiggins, 34, on Trafficking of Persons charges.
They are both accused of “knowingly” trafficking four underage boys and “through force, fraud or coercion” making them “engage in forced labor or services.” The two ran Joshua Home, which officials described as a place that “purports to be a residential home for troubled boys.”
According to the indictment, the trafficking allegedly occurred between May 17, 2018 and July 25, 2018.
In July 2018, Burnet County officials descended upon a 10-acre property in the 2500 block of Farm to Market Road 243 West near Bertram.
Eight boys between the ages of 10 and 17 were removed after a multi-agency investigation into allegations of abuse, neglect, labor violations, fraud, licensing violations and human trafficking.
Andrew Nasiatka’s 11-year-old brother Nicholas was staying at the Bertram home when the raid happened.
“My brother did a lot of work around the grounds and helped around,” Nasiatka said. “There was certain disciplinary measures such as staring at the wall.”
In May, KXAN followed up on the investigation and at the time, Gary Wiggins did not face any charges. At the time, Wiggins’ attorney, Eddie Shell, said none of the eight boys who were interviewed by CPS last year made any accusations that would warrant criminal charges.
In the past, authorities in Alabama and Missouri had looked into Wiggins and his nonprofits, but no charges had been filed.
A year after the initial raid in Bertram, investigators tracked the Wiggins down in Alabama earlier this month, and brought them back to Burnet County.
“I’m glad the children are out of it, and I’m glad we’ve progressed to where we have, sometimes it’s frustrating because these cases take so long,” said Burnet County Sheriff Calvin Boyd.
The Joshua Home facility is not associated or affiliated with similarly-named His Joshua House in Llano County, which is a sober living home for adult men.
Both are listed as being in custody in the Burnet County jail with bond set at $100,000.
Nasiatka said the whole ordeal has been a painful and costly learning lesson.
“There’s a lot of money that I invested into this boys home that I won’t ever get back,” Nasiatka said.