State investigating foster home after 13-year-old's gang rape


by JESSICA HOLLOWAY / KVUE News and photojournalist ERIN COKER

Posted on July 19, 2013 at 10:27 PM

AUSTIN -- There is no apparent wrong-doing at a foster home in North Austin, but the state is investigating after police say a 13-year-old ran away and ended up as a victim of a gang rape.

According to court documents, the girl left the home between 9 p.m. - 10 p.m. June 29. APD confirms they received a 911 call around 10:30 p.m. from the shelter, reporting a missing teen.

"It's not a jail. It's a home for children. These are children who need a home environment. So there is security in place but it's not necessarily a locked down facility," said Julie Moody, spokeswoman for the State Department of Family & Protective Services.

The manager of the children's home would not tell KVUE how many staff members they have or whether they have nightly checks for each of the rooms. Each child does have their own individual plan, when it comes to security and supervision.

"There's always something that may not be done properly, but with regulation you give the operation a chance to correct any mistakes. The Settlement Home has always corrected any issue or problem within the timeframe that we've given them," said Moody.

Staff members at the Settlement Home would not comment on camera. When KVUE asked how a 13-year-old girl would get out of the gated complex at night, they replied, "Just like any child would runaway from their own home."

"This is a home, it's a theraputic home. We're talking about victims of abuse or neglect. So, we want to give them a sense of normalcy," said Moody.

The state's investigation should take between 30-45 days.

Two men are in jail in connection with the assault. Juan Ortega and Edgar Perez are charged with aggravated sexual assault of a child. Investigators are checking their immigration status.

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