Testimony underway in molestation trial - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

Testimony underway in molestation trial

By Christie Post - email

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) – Testimony is underway in the trial of a former youth administrator accused of molesting boys in his care at the West Texas State School, a part of the Texas Youth Commission in Pyote.

John Paul Hernandez, 45, the former principal pleaded not guilty to 11 counts, two counts of sexual assault and nine counts of improper relationship between an educator and a student.

The case out of Ward County was moved to Lubbock on the defense's request. Six years later the case has reached a jury.

Prosecutors say Hernandez gave inmates special treatment, candy and promises of financial aid before sexually abusing the boys in closets and classrooms. The defense says there is no DNA evidence to back up the claims.

The Texas Attorney General took over prosecution after they say the Ward County District Attorney did not act quickly.

Tuesday the first witness, Texas Ranger Brian Burzinski who investigated the case back in 2005, testified in detail about interviewing some of the victims.

Burzinski says he searched Hernandez's home on the Pyote campus weeks into the investigation. He says he found no evidence of foul play on Hernandez's clothes, but added that the clothes were already washed and dry cleaned.

The Ranger also says he looked at surveillance cameras on the campus, but The Texas Youth Commission erases the video every seven days.

Burzinski says there was evidence found on the carpet of Hernandez's office, but the DNA did not match Hernandez or the victims the Ranger spoke with.

Authorities say more than a dozen boys were involved and that the scandal led to cover ups and beatings.

Lawmakers eventually ordered an overhaul of the system and closed the facility last summer.

The former superintendent, Edward Brookins, is the only official that has been charged in this investigation. Back in April of last year Brookins was sentenced to ten years behind bars.

The Hernandez trial is expected to last several weeks.

Copyright 2011 KCBD. All rights reserved.

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