This narration is generated by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting, a nonprofit news organization. Learn more at revealnews.organd subscribe to Reveal’s newsletters at revealnews.org/ newsletter . em>
By the time the federal government departments started sending immigrant children to Shiloh Treatment Center in 2009, the forewarn pennants were gesticulating blood red.
Three children had died after being physically confined at Shiloh and affiliated facilities in rural Texas run by the same man, Clay Dean Hill. A teen from California vanished after running away and getting hit by a truck. Texas officials frequently had cited Hill’s suburban centres for troubled youths after guardians were found to have slapped, punched, and knocked children.
Yet nine years ago, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services transmitted its first bringing of federal levy dollars to Hill, a one-time longshoreman-turned-millionaire industrialist specializing in the care of susceptible children. The federal government departments demanded Hill to make immigrant children with mental health problems who were caught sweeping the border without parents or papers.
The funding started a couple of months before a male guardian in his 40 s was caught preying on a 15 -year-old girl from California, sexually mistreating her at one of Hill’s all-girl dormitories, where he was assigned overnight. He’s now a convicted gender offender.
” It shows you how infamous the place was ,” said the onetime resident , now 25, who told her tale publicly for the first time to Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting.
The federal Office of Refugee Resettlement continued to send immigrant children to Hill’s care after another teenager was killed during a self-control and the position of Texas shut down one of his facilities, seeing it dangerous “for childrens”. And this year, after migrant children was indicated in court statements that they were forcibly injected with psychiatric medications, federal officials claimed there was no problem. In all, the federal government has paid Shiloh more than $33 million for the care of immigrant youths.
It took a federal adjudicate to action the refugee department to take action. U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee governed July 30 that the Office of Refugee Resettlement must remove children from Shiloh unless a licensed psychiatrist or psychologist determines they pose increased risk to themselves or others.
It didn’t have to get to this point. The autobiography of extinction and ill-treatment at Hill’s agricultural frontier for perturbed children was no secret. Hill, 69, has remained a go-to provider for the Office of Refugee Resettlement even after numerous disclosures by Texas newspapers, calls of the representatives of Congress for Shiloh to be shut down and threats from the regional district attorney.
The story of Shiloh pictures just how bad it can get at a child care running the federal government departments sees is worth taxpayer dollars and acceptable for immigrant children. Reveal previously found that private business controlling immigrant adolescent protects across the nation have racked up cites for serious relapses in upkeep. A ProPublica analysis of police reports find hundreds of allegations of sex offense, contends and missing children at these shelters.
Hill and Shiloh employees have not returned various asks by Reveal endeavouring comment.
A July statement on Shiloh’s website says it has been investigated by various government agencies and” all of the widely distributed allegations about Shiloh were found to be without merit. The children have been found to be properly cared for and treated .”
Trump administration officials too maintain that the children are in good hands at Shiloh and other facilities paid to supervise immigrant children. Scott Lloyd, chairman of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, said in a June press briefing that his agency is” proud of its partnership with our UAC care providers ,” exercising the acronym for unaccompanied alien children.
” I’ve watched firsthand the good work they do in all regions of the U.S. to ensure UACs receive proper care and business ,” he said.
The government’s defense of Shiloh likewise points to a fundamental problem with federal oversight. In court filings this year, government lawyers made it clear that the federal agency responsible for the children introduces much of its sect in state officials to monitor immigrant protects such as Shiloh.
But Reveal has found that Texas licensing officials apparently failed to properly implement their own regulations when they shut down Hill’s Daystar Residential Inc. facility and allowed Shiloh to continue. The ordinance should have stopped Hill from operating any residential child care centers for five years.
It was a far-reaching disappointment that give Hill repair his procedure. Just as Texas stopped casting its foster child to Hill, the federal government departments was convulsing him a brand-new beginning of money: immigrant children.
Former employees told Reveal that they adored working with the children but were concerned that Hill has been allowed to stay in business, taking in a vulnerable population after decades of troubles. Four said they were disturbed by the abuse that happened there while administration gaped the other path. They also said they didn’t want to use their reputations for nervousnes of retaliation.
” Some of these guys, they were just so rough and harsh ,” said a former hire who worked for years as a custodian at both Daystar and Shiloh.” They seemed like they just wanted to always prompted the clients and get them to act out, get them to contended each other. They would abuse them .”
Clay Hill now faces a court order to stop doping children without proper acquiesce. Immigrant children, countless traumatized by violence in their home countries, told of being threatened that if they didn’t take lozenges, they would be punished with more time in Shiloh. Some said they were held down and forcibly administered with medication despite their objections.
Parents of children living said they never were asked allow for the powerful drugs to be administered.
This should not have been a surprise. Remedy troubles at Hill’s facilities go back many years, Reveal found.
” If they get mad, they’re gonna get a shot ,” said a onetime hire who worked with foster children at Daystar and immigrant children at Shiloh.” If they start talking like,’ I’m not going to do this ,’ they’re gonna get a shot .”
A Texas Education Agency review in 2015 quoth Shiloh for involving parent education special educational students to consent” to its implementation of’ emergency’ drugs as a condition of agreement .”
” Some mothers territory to the district that they did not feel their concerns were being heard by the facility doctors ,” the findings commonwealth.” It too was reported by some region representatives that they have discovered a Shiloh staff member threaten to give students ‘a PRN( emergency prescription )’ for misbehavior .”
Ten years earlier, the Texas Department of State Health Services questioned a sarcastic report on drug rehearsals at Daystar. A unit of experts find a troubling motif: “There was no evidence of documented, informed consent for prescribed medications.”
The diagnosings and therapy schedules were “canned” and often didn’t correspond to the patient, the report said. Children and their own families were not being told why they were being given the remedies. Many children were developing weight problems and some as young as 10 years old had high-pitched cholesterol.
” In almost none of these children were the elevated laboratory tests addressed ,” the review found.
Daystar’s psychiatrist at the time was Dr. Javier Ruiz-Nazario, a longtime fixture of Hill’s operation and the same man immigrant children at Shiloh said was committing them drug. In knowledge, all four psychiatrists listed on a 2007 administrative show for Daystar likewise are named on Shiloh’s formations for dispensing medication to immigrant youths.
Still, federal officials assured a judge in May that Shiloh didn’t need more oversight.
Jallyn Sualog, deputy director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, said in a court declaration:” To my knowledge, Texas state licensing officials have not reported any concerns considering Shiloh &# x27; s complying with country guidelines concerning the administration of psychotropic medications” to imprison immigrant children.
Sualog are saying that” the board certified child and teen psychiatrists” at Shiloh use” good practice guidelines .”
Ruiz-Nazario, however, hasn’t had card certification to treat children and adolescents for years, Reveal noted. After Reveal’s story, Sualog filed a rewritten statement acknowledging that.
Another federal official said in an April letter to attorneys for “their childrens” that the Office of Refugee Resettlement has a medical squad that monitors treatment and has seen Shiloh. In a footnote, he declared the agency” does not, however, employ child and youngster analysts who would have the training to scrutinize the specific medications prescribed by Shiloh professionals .”
Over-medicating the children to keep them in line was common practice, said three former employees. Two said guardians would ask doctors to boost the remedies to induce the children sleepy-eyed and easier to deal with.
Even if federal officials were not paying attention to the findings of Texas bureaux, they should have investigated the Houston Chronicle’s 2014 investigations conducted by Shiloh, which raised questions about the use of psychotropic prescriptions. The floor caused U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, to call for Shiloh to be shut down.
Jackson Lee told Reveal that she reacted to the recent news of questions at Shiloh with” a combination of skepticism, dejection and scandalize .” She had assumed the government stopped casting immigrant children there after the previous outcry.
” I’m sure there are some neat people there, but the overall account starts it inappropriate to send traumatized children to this equipment. So it is very much a great disappointment to me ,” she said.” I’m kind of taken aback .”
Who is Clay Hill?
Clay Hill has a special education severity from the University of Houston and a teaching certificate, according to a deposition he opened in 2003. After college, Hill started working with an autistic child and later ranged a treatment center in Dallas.
In the 1990 s, Hill founded Daystar and Shiloh, building a sprawling campus out of trailers and houses off country roads south of Houston. He created various categories of interrelated corporate entities, but Hill was behind it all.
He made in the vulnerable children: emotionally ruffled foster teenagers , nonverbal autistic children and special educational students academy districts couldn’t manage. Many emerged from Texas, but some were communicated there from California and Guam.
The operation flourished because he would accept children no other facility would, onetime staff member said. Some were extremely agitated and volatile, on occasion criticizing caretakers.
Hill put up Daystar as a nonprofit at the suggestion of state officials, to allow for the purposes of applying federal duty dollars, in accordance with his deposition. Daystar then leased the estate, constructs, furniture and vehicles and contracted works from Hill’s for-profit entities.
Hill even sufficed as chairman of the now-defunct Daystar Pharmacy, a for-profit that provided narcotics to his programs. Times ago, the pharmacist there got caught exercising bogus prescriptions to steal some 15,000 pills, including more than 7,000 dosages of opioids, according to the report of state records.
Daystar and Shiloh set near one another, sharing some staff and lead. The children living at Daystar often went to school at Shiloh. At one point, their administrative headquarters were different parts of the same trailer.
At the same time, Hill formed a baseball squad for privileged high school actors that claims big-leaguers Josh Beckett and Matt Carpenter as graduates. Hill operated a nonprofit announced Texas Tournament Baseball with a former banker who went to prison for fraud and later driven at Hill’s treatment equipment. Ex-employees said ballplayers without knowledge compassionate for anxious children would sometimes work there, too.
Former employees said Hill seemed to care more about making a profit than improving the lives of children.
Hill made in compensation of $680,000 in 2006 and $720,000 in 2007, the most recent years he reported the amount in public taxation filings. That was down from a payment of more than$ 1 million that he reported in 2001. Meanwhile, children had restraint facilities for recreation, former laborers said, and lived in buildings sometimes cited by mood regulators as grimy and dilapidated.
” It was all about fund with him ,” said Caroline Laifang, who worked as a special education coach at Shiloh for several years in the 2000 s.” If you’re trying to explain to him this is not in the best interest of the students, he’ll let you know–this is a business .”
Hill, for his part, said he was constantly working for Shiloh and Daystar.
” I foresee I make 24 hours per day, seven days a few weeks because I &# x27; m on call all the time ,” he said in his 2003 deposition,” and I respond to every bawl .”
In October, David, a 13 -year-old boy from El Salvador, didn’t feel safe at Shiloh Treatment Center.
Fearful of employees who screamed at him, David carried a crate to escape. When he tried to open a window, he said in national courts proclamation, a superintendent threw him against the door and pinned him against the wall.
” This seen me feel like I was strangling and it was hard for me to breathe. I told the supervisor to stop because I couldn &# x27; t breathe ,” David’s declaration moods.” I briefly fainted. As I recovered consciousness a staff person violently shed me on my berth and this caused my ability to slam against the wall .”
It was eerily suggestive of panoramas described in medical examiner reports when U.S.-born children died in Clay Hill’s care.
Dawn Renay Perry had been to fight recession, aggressive action and low-spirited mental run when she was placed at Hill’s Behavior Training Research facility, in these areas outside the cities of Manvel where Shiloh sets now.
In April 1993, the 16 -year-old was held face down on the floor by four parties, evidences show.
” After imprisonment was referred multiple times, the decedent tighten and rolled up into a lump as she often did when she discontinued defending ,” medical examiner enters district. Then she upchuck, turned blue and stopped moving.
Stephanie Duffield was also 16 when, in 2001, she became upset that a Shiloh staff member didn’t escort her to the bathroom instantly. There was a struggle, and the aide propped her down, face to the carpet, putting her heavines on Duffield’s shoulders, according to the report of medical examiner records.
Duffield asserted, saying she couldn’t breathe. Then she did stop breathing. The medical examiner announced it” rapid cardiac fatality following hyperactivity and physical exertion during taboo ,” decision it an accident.
Hill said in a 2003 deposition that he didn’t think his personnel did anything wrong.
” I thought it was just another grim, shocking occurrence ,” he told a solicitor representing Duffield’s family.” I happen to be–considered myself–a sidekick of Stephanie &# x27; s, had worked with her 2 day before. She bit my hands and scratched it and all the things that she could do. And we were friends. It … it violated my feeling to assure the boy succumbs .”
” So, you are familiar, I concluded she died of a heart attack ,” he said.” I didn &# x27; t fantasize the length of the limited got a lot to do with it .”
He didn’t see a decoration when, a year after Duffield’s death, 15 -year-old Latasha Bush also vanished following a restraint.
The girl, who was diagnosed as bipolar with the feeling age of a 6-year-old, had told her one-on-one caretaker, Tisha White, that she dried the bottom at night because she was afraid of her.
White said in a deposition that Bush was restrained by other caretakers after it showed she was going to hurl a flashlight and then propelled herself against the wall, cracking it, and repeatedly asked to be left alone. White said the employees placed Bush on her slope, but a youth in the house said one of them was setting on Bush and she was screaming that she couldn’t breathe.
The medical examiner called it murder by asphyxiation. State licensing officials said she suffocated from the consequences of being restraint with excessive oblige. The district attorney told The Dallas Morning News in 2003 that she considered prosecuting but lacked hard evidence of criminal intent.
Hill called Bush’s death” a terrifying misfortune” but realized no faulting in his operation’s methods.
” Based on the information we had, we felt like the self-control was done the method it was supposed to be done ,” he told a advocate for the Duffield and Bush genealogies, who pointed up ending their lawsuits.
” I &# x27; m not willing to agree that the self-restraint began the suffocation, ” he said.
Those demises had been well broadcasted by the time federal officials awarded Shiloh $ 480,000 in May 2009 to start sheltering immigrant children.
What they didn’t know was there would be another.
In November 2010, Michael Owens, a 16 -year-old battling depression and behavioral difficulties, breath for air in a closet smeared with blood. Daystar hires had taken him to the flooring, gathering his arms behind him, where reference is began” huffing and puffing ,” medical examiner evidences show.
He died from asphyxiation, the medical examiner received, also noting” weaken wallop damage of face, torso and upper extremities.” Like Bush’s death, it was regulated a homicide.
His death was one too many for the regime of Texas. Officials stripped Daystar of its license, cut off its multimillion-dollar contract and moved out all the children who lived there in 2011.
Texas’ stimulate care agency wouldn’t send any of its own children to Shiloh, either. In have responded to concerns from the district attorney, the Department of Family and Protective Services wrote in a 2011 letter that it” has no intention of contracting or locating any CPS children with Shiloh, Inc. and staff has been instructed accordingly .”
But Hill got a big break from the mood. Licensing officials continued Shiloh open for business, and that was good enough for the federal government, which was ramping up service delivery of immigrant children and millions of taxpayer dollars.
A month after Owens’ death, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services gifted $1.8 million to Shiloh to take in detained immigrant children. The address on federal fund chronicles is the same as the one on Owens’ postmortem report.
Problems persisted. In 2011, state officials saw a Shiloh caregiver confined a child without rationale, effecting” an injury to a vital figure field .” He had face-lift up and then declined the child to the field, evidences demo, putting his form weight on top. Within two months, the federal government apportioned Shiloh$ two million more.
With the influx of immigrants, country examiners started witnessing a new spin on an old problem: Shiloh didn’t ever have hires present who were able to speak the child’s language.
A Honduran boy was hemorrhaging from his cavity and screaming in Spanish that he was in pain while being held down in 2013, according to witness notes referred to in government records.
One of the employees limiting him admitted that he did” not speak Spanish and he would not be able to understand if( the son) was complaining .”
The federal Office of Refugee Resettlement and its mother busines, the Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families, waned an interrogation and is not respond to repeated is asking for comment.
In November, an 11 -year-old girl said in a indicated declaration that she’d rather live on wall street in her native Honduras than stay at Shiloh.
” On at the least two occasions staff member have tried to hurt me ,” she stated.” One meter a staff member leant her two thumbs up to my throat and her entrusts around my neck. It hurt and I was gasping for breather. The staff member said she was just’ dallying’ but I felt scared .”
Such testimony should come as no surprise to government officials.
On several occasions over the years, Texas investigators found that employees at Hill’s equipment slapped, hit and kicked children. In one case, an employee chip small children during a limited. In two others, employees perforated children in the head.
An employee bathing a 16 -year-old resident generated severe bruising to the teenager’s buttocks. Another child, a nonverbal 8-year-old boy, was located with various recognizes to his lower back and freighter. Times afterward, a cellphone video surfaced indicating a Shiloh employee slapping a nonverbal autistic child.
At one point, a Daystar supervisor and another employee taught seven developmentally delayed citizens to fight, employing snacks as a compensation for the winner. The faculty” chortled and praised as the residents fought ,” leaving several traumata, according to the report of position records.
Former employees said there were beings working there who were doing the very best. But they also told of misuse by co-workers that they couldn’t forget: the people who beat up a foster child, the one who feared an autistic son with sex explains, the person who is submit a report to teach how to suffocate children to” introduce them to sleep .”
A onetime Shiloh caretaker said other employees would alienate children to get them to act out, inducing a distressing restraint.
” It was like they got a kick out of it ,” said the former employee. Some of them were longtime hires, and no one would get in hassle, she said. She intent up discontinuing because, she said,” I didn’t want to be a part of any of that .”
Even in the early years, get beat up was a part of life at Hill’s treatment cores, said Brielle Gillis.
” It was to a pitch where you got outstrip so much better that you felt like you “ve earned it” ,” she said.
Gillis arrived in the 1990 s as an 11 -year-old foster child, removed from an abusive home, she said. Now 35 and transgender, she went by the call Jeremy Keith Gillis at the time. Gillis wasted her adolescence at Hill’s facilities until she got out in 2001.
One time, she said, three custodians ganged up on her.
” They was regarding me down, folding me like a pretzel, and they was stomping and knocking me ,” she said.
An adult witness to the outdo proved it to Reveal and said nothing came of it.
Any disorders would get back to the caretakers, who would punish “their childrens”, Gillis said. In any case, she said, children were written off as troubled liars.
Many years later, after a position sleuth was decided that Shiloh employees expended unwarranted force in curtailing a 14 -year-old Honduran boy who had been abandoned as a child, Hill represented his staff.
” Mr. Hill stated the teenagers is extremely crafty and will make up tales to get staff in bother ,” the reviewer wrote in 2013.” He territory he relies his staff members of doing the right thing .”
Texas has a law to prevent someone such as Clay Hill from racing another child care equipment when one goes shut down.
The state cautioned Daystar that its” restraining people”- those determined to exercise control over the facility- would be be prohibited from racing another suburban equipment for five years.
If there was a person in control at Daystar, it was Hill.
Hill said it himself in his 2003 deposition when the family of Latasha Bush litigated Daystar. He said he was the ultimate approval in matters of hiring, opening invokes, developing staff and accepting cases, though he delegated some decisions to underlings. The executive director of Daystar, Carroll ” Cal ” Salls, reported to Hill, he said.
State licensing officials should have known as much. A 2007 managerial planned in regime records registers Hill at the highest level of Daystar. And state registers list Hill as a” holding party” at Shiloh.
It was even more clear on the foot, said former both the employees and citizens. From Daystar to Shiloh, Hill flowed everything.
” He’s the one who runs the establish ,” said former employee Caroline Laifang.” No decision is uttered without Clay Hill knowing about it .”
But somehow, the regime didn’t see it that way.
” In imparting its investigation, the territory found that Daystar Residential and Shiloh Treatment Center did not share a limiting person ,” said John Reynolds, spokesman for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.
Still, the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement had plenty of opportunities to pull the plug. The Brazoria County district attorney, Jeri Yenne, wrote a letter addressed to federal officials in 2011″ because of concerns for the safety of children .”
” This is due to the fact that there have been a number of deaths over the years of children placed on the belonging be administered by Shiloh and its affiliate busines Daystar Treatment Center ,” she wrote.” I am requesting increased monitoring of Shiloh Treatment Center and that your enterprise evaluation the same and consider restraint the number of children placed in Shiloh Treatment Center .”
This year, an advocate representing immigrant minors at Shiloh wrote a word recommending federal officials to stop routing children there. It focused on the drugging troubles, but memorandum Shiloh’s connection to Daystar and the deaths.
An Office of Refugee Resettlement official responded by making a degree of distancing Shiloh from Daystar.
” Notably, Shiloh RTC( Residential Treatment Center) is not operated by DayStar Treatment Center( DayStar ), which is mentioned in your letter ,” wrote elderly federal discipline expert supervisor James De La Cruz.” Even when it was still in business the licensure of Daystar was completely separate from that of Shiloh .”
The distinction is lost on former employees and citizens. And Clay Hill wasn’t the only person who oversaw both institutions during their darkest minutes. Kellie Pitts has been in charge of quality control at Shiloh since 1999 and likewise are of the view that character at Daystar, according to Hill’s deposition. Tisha White, who was briefly suspended but cleared of wrongdoing in the 2002 deaths among Latasha Bush, appears to work at Shiloh, based on her Facebook profile and histories of others. Pitts and White could not be reached for comment.
When lawyers representing the children asked a federal reviewer to occur this year, government attorneys shot back that there is already batch of oversight.
Federal officials argued that the court” should not impart its own evaluation ,” but instead” should rely on the State’s own evaluation .”
” Given this extensive stage of omission by the states ,” the government’s filing says,” this Court can- and should- reasonably rely on the findings and conclusions of those country licensing experts .”
Yet state licensing officials, also responsible for the Texas foster care system, have been found to be dangerously ineffectual.
Federal District Judge Janis Graham Jack settled in December 2015 that Texas was profoundly failing to protect foster child. Among widespread questions, she found the district licensing agency was ” failing its licensing and inspecting roles” and” almost never takes an enforcement action .”
She cited an internal review that knew error rates of up to 75 percentage in the state’s investigations conducted by mistreat allegations.
” This is staggering ,” she wrote,” and it means that countless ill-treated children- for whom a predominance of exhibit indicated that they were physically mistreated, sexually mistreated, or neglected- croak untreated and could be left in abusive placements .”
It is the same agency that probed 30 complaints regarding ill-treatment or disuse at Shiloh since October 2012 and ruled out every one of them, according to Department of Family and Protective Services records.
Texas, the judge obtained,” has closed one equipment in the past five years old, but it is a story of horror rather than confidence involving enforcement .” She was talking about Daystar.
Texas dominions” accepted this facility- that was responsible for four extinctions, numerous allegations of sex offense, and impossible medicine of developmentally disabled children- to operate for 17 times ,” the justice wrote.” The Court is not understand , nor abide, the systemic willingness to set children in mortal harm’s direction .”
In January 2018, the same adjudicate problem a stark revise:” Over two-years later, the system remains busted .”
Jack dictated resumed monitoring of the state organisation by commissioned special surmounts. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton plea the settling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, where it is pending.
” The ruling was arrived at by an unelected federal reviewer who misapplied the laws and regulations, hijacked restraint of our state’s foster attention plan, and ordered an ill-conceived program by the special employers that is both imperfect and impossible ,” Paxton said in an April statement.
Former federal officials indicated that they are doing the best they could.
” There was unquestionably a sense that their own problems at Shiloh were difficulties that could be fixed ,” one ex-official said. Opened that Shiloh maintained its commonwealth permission,” working to address the issues seemed like the right thing to do to keep the capacity on pipeline .”
There weren’t a lot of other options for immigrant children with serious mental health problems, said the onetime official, who requested anonymity:” It is a specialized equipment. We don’t have a ton of those working in information systems .”
Even one case of child maltreatment is objectionable, but in a plan building thousands of children, it is also inevitable, said Maria Cancian, who was agent helper secretary for policy in the Administration for Children and Families, over the status of refugees resettlement office, from 2015 to 2016.
” Sometimes things are going to happen that shouldn’t happen ,” she said.
The refugee resettlement agency stiffened omission, Cancian said, including increasing unannounced visits to sanctuaries by realm representatives.
” Was it fairly? Almost certainly not ,” she said.” There’s almost never small children service make-up in its own country that is adequately resourced .”
Cancian said she called shelters that were” overwhelmingly staffed by people who were trying to do their best, and by and large, they were arranges that provided high-quality care .”
” The objections are absolutely not acceptable ,” she lent,” and it’s well placed to light a light on that .”
Reporters Aura Bogado and Vanessa Swales contributed to this story. It was revised by Ziva Branstetter and Amy Pyle and simulate edited by Nikki Frick . em>