Some explosive new allegations have come to light in the Paul Babeu scandal. The Arizona Sheriff and GOP congressional candidate has been linked to potential child abuse. ABC 15 in Arizona has investigated the DeSisto School where Babeu was Headmaster and Executive Director between 1999 and 2001, and the findings are shocking.
DeSisto was a private boarding school for troubled teenagers, many of whom had some sort of special needs. During Babeu’s time there, the Massachusetts Office of Child Care Services investigated the school for repeated allegations of abuse. In 2004, the school was eventually shut down.
One woman, a former student at DeSisto during Babeu’s time, described the conditions students lived under. Students were punished by being stripped naked and forced to wear nothing but a sheet in front of classmates. Others were “cornered,” forced to sit on a chair, feet flat on the ground, facing into a corner for more than 14 hours at a stretch, sometimes for weeks at a time.
One student with ADHD, bipolar disorder and an impulse control disorder was cornered for weeks. His medications weren’t properly monitored and he began urinating and defecating on himself, before being admitted to a hospital with pneumonia.
Students were even used to strip search other students. Sometimes students were only allowed to use the toilets in the presence of staff or fellow students. Forced group showers also led to repeated instances of sexual abuse. And there’s even more: ABC 15 had to create a separate page on their site dedicated solely to the troubling disciplinary practices at DeSisto. When students complained to parents about the conditions, it was policy to tell the parents the story was fabricated, and sometimes they would deny parents contact with their children entirely.
But that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Both the former student, Holli Nielsen, and Babeu’s own older sister, Lucy, told ABC 15 that Babeu was having a relationship with a 17-year-old male student from the school. Lucy discovered them living together when she came to visit, and Babeu told her the student was his boyfriend, and that he was in love with the boy.
Nielsen alleges that the relationship was an open secret, and that students and faculty at the school were aware of the relationship and did nothing to challenge it. The unnamed student would have been 17 at the time, which is technically the age of consent in Massachusetts. That doesn’t make the abuse of authority on Babeu’s part any less disturbing, or less legally actionable.
Naturally, Babeu decline requests for an interview to tell his side of the story. Instead, his spokesman released the following statement:
“DeSisto Private School’s mission was to save troubled, yet talented youth in a therapeutic environment. The Sheriff served three years and was recognized for helping restore financial stability of the school. He was never the target of any investigation or lawsuit. Sheriff Babeu is a recognized leader for Victim’s Rights.”
In the wake of the report, both former students at the school and Arizona Senator Ron Gould, Babeu’s opponent in the Republican congressional primary, are calling for Sheriff Babeu to withdraw from the race and step down from his position.
Photo credit: DoctorWho
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