BURNET COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — Almost a year after Andrew Nasiatka’s little brother was removed from the Joshua Home near Bertram amid abuse allegations, Nasiatka says he no longer supports the operator of the home, Gary Wiggins. Instead, he supports the law enforcement investigation and says he hopes charges against Wiggins will be filed sooner rather than later.
“I never really thought critically about what happened,” Nasiatka told KXAN News over FaceTime, who says he never had the chance to observe the boys home in an unbiased way. “It was always just you know, suppress the thought, suppress the critical thinking, and just trust in the faith.”
He continued, “That’s not a place that a child should be at and that’s not the way a child should feel. They should feel safe, secure, happy. There was no happiness whatsoever there.”
Nasiatka’s then 11-year-old brother entered the home in December 2017, when it was still operating in Missouri.
The facility under investigation is not associated or affiliated with similarly-named His Joshua House in Llano County, which is a sober living home for adult men.
Burnet County Sheriff Calvin Boyd told members of the news media last year he was confident charges would be filed. However, nearly a year after the removal took place, that has yet to happen.
“There have been a lot of hours invested in this investigation. Several state agencies have been involved and we’re hoping that soon, we can put it in front of a grand jury,” Sheriff Boyd told KXAN News Monday. “We’re confident that they’ll be indicted.”
“I want them to go after all of the charges. I know that it’s going to take time, but these are issues that are happening to kids,” added Nasiatka. “We need to say, ‘No,’ kids should not be harmed because of their parents’ beliefs. That’s ultimately what it is.”
Nasiatka says he is formerly of the Indepedent Fundamental Baptist Church affiliation, or IFB. After his deconversion from that faith, he said he thinks to himself, “How did I ever believe this stuff?”
In July 2018, Burnet County officials removed eight boys from Joshua Home following a multi-agency investigation into allegations of abuse, neglect, labor violations, fraud, licensing violations and human trafficking at a 10-acre property located in the 2500 block of Farm to Market 243 West near Bertram. Investigators obtained warrants and searched a double-wide trailer and two portable buildings.
The boys at Joshua Home ranged in age between 10 and 17 years old at the time they were placed temporarily in the custody of Child Protective Services until they could be reunited with their parents, all of whom lived out of state.
Authorities spent weeks conducting a joint investigation into the unlicensed home, which “purports to be a residential home for troubled boys” and is affiliated with the nonprofit, The Joshua Home Ministries. None of the boys who were removed from the home are related to the nonprofit’s staff.
Prior to the Texas investigation, authorities in Alabama and Missouri looked into Wiggins and his nonprofits in recent years, although no charges had been filed related to his work, according to KXAN’s sister stations.
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.
“The parents of all of the boys have always been informed of the condition of the boys and the whereabouts of the boys,” Shell told KXAN at the time. “Anything that the Wiggins’ have done, they have done it with the permission of the parents.”
Shell said on Monday, “When it’s been this long, there’s something that the state is not seeing, in my view, that would cause them to file a criminal case. It doesn’t take 15 minutes to file a criminal case.”
The attorney said what happened in this case was “basically a license violation.”
Shell also said it’s possible that media reports out of Missouri prompted the local investigation. He said they moved to Bertram because the owner’s wife had family there and some land.