Four former and current Texas Juvenile Justice Department guards were arrested Thursday as part of an ongoing investigation into alleged abuse at state-run youth lockups. Another suspect remains at large, possibly out of state.
The four people were charged with misdemeanor charges of official oppression related to allegations of excessive force against committed children in custody, according to a Department of Public Safety news release. Two current guards of the Gainesville State School, Derrick Goodman, 56, and Shannon Hoaglen, 41, were arrested while they were at work Thursday. Former guards Derrick Day, 39, of Gainesville, and Morsello Hooker, 31, who worked at a state lockup in Brownwood, were also detained.
The arrests stem from a joint investigation by the Texas Rangers and the juvenile justice department. The at-large suspect faces felony charges of tampering with a governmental record and theft by a public servant.
Thursday's actions add to the slew of other recent arrests of state workers at the Gainesville lockup. A November memo by the juvenile justice agency highlighted the recent conviction and 10-year prison sentence of one guard and the arrests of three others at the North Texas facility for allegedly having sex with committed youth.
Soon after, two more guards at the facility were arrested on charges of official oppression stemming from past incidents. One guard allegedly struck a youth in the face and another put her hands around a minor’s throat and pushed him into a cabinet.
The arrests come after Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, called for the Texas Rangers to investigate alleged misconduct at state-run youth lockups after reports of sexual and physical abuse at the Gainesville facility. Abbott said in a statement Thursday that he was pleased with the progress being made and thanked the investigators for their swift action.
“While there is still much more that needs to be done, and these investigations are ongoing, I am confident that justice will be served,” he said.
Abbott has had his hand in a shakeup of the agency since the recent scandal came to light. Last month, the retiring executive director of the department was replaced by a former Abbott employee, and this week Abbott replaced both the independent watchdog of the agency and the board chairman.
The agency's new leader said she was grateful for the help from the Texas Rangers in bringing "these people to justice."
"There is no room among us for those who dishonor themselves and violate the public trust," Camille Cain said. "These arrests improve the safety of the youth we serve."