News 5 Investigates is asking state public official why it took years come shut down the troubled El Pueblo Boys and also Girls Ranch after ~ we discovered numerous situations of abuse and also neglect in ~ the facility.
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Over the years, El Pueblo was home to numerous children and also teens through psychiatric and also behavioral issues.
An open records request News 5 submitted unlocked numerous abuse and neglect violations documented in 2013-2017 state investigate reports that were no publicly released until we asked because that them.
“I carry out not desire this place ever before opened increase again so i was an extremely happy,” Lisa Mitchell told News 5 in one interview critical month.
Lisa’s son, Sam, spent several years in ~ El Pueblo. His mother said he suffered a traumatic brain injury at birth and struggled in school. After suffering severe mood swings, Lisa sought aid for her son.
At the period of 11, a court ordered Sam come live in ~ El Pueblo—little did Lisa recognize what would happen behind the brick walls at the facility.
“I feeling it was so concealed,” Lisa said. “It was like a secret.”
The secrets surprise behind close up door doors to be revealed after ~ El Pueblo had its patent suspended.
News 5 found case after situation of abuse and also neglect involving staff members physical kicking and also kneeing children.
On many occasions, state examiners said El Pueblo staff didn’t appear concerned around the care and well-being of kids in your custody.
Children also complained aboutbeing hungry. In one report, a child shed a considerable amount that weight and no one from El Pueblo can explain why.
Staff likewise lost medication, gave kids wrong medication and failed to inform a parental after their son ran far from the center.
“I got knee striked andfemale staffwould pinch me,” Sam said as soon as asked how he to be treated at El Pueblo. “Some staff would choke me to the suggest that my face was blue andI couldn’t breathe.”
Sam says as part staff members would physically attack children, various other employees ignored the problems.
State inspectors confirmed El Pueblo employee failed come report suspected abuse and neglect instances to DHS, which is compelled by law.
“Your taxation dollars walk to fund this (operation), Lisa said. “You funded child abuse.”
News 5 Investigates uncovered El Pueblo CEO James “Jimmy” Cardinal was even recorded covering up the abuse. In a 2017 suspension review report, Cardinal inappropriately limit a child and also then submitted false information to the Colorado room of human being Services when asked around the incident.
“When we were see a pattern of untruth, unwillingness come cooperate, unwillingness come adhere to rules, the is as soon as we took adverse action and suspended your license,” Minna Castillo-Cohen, theCDHS director of the Office the Children, Youth and also Familiessaid.
However, El Pueblo’s patent wasn’t suspended until Sept. 2017.
“In state inspection reports, there to be a background of violate that emerged over and over again,” chef Investigative Reporter Eric Ross said Castillo-Cohen. “This abuse has been recorded for years, but there to be no consequences?”
“When we room working through a facility, the really vital to understand whetherwe working through a struggling great actor who is capable of making those changes,or are we working with someone that is unable and unwilling to do those changes,” Castillo-Cohen said.
Castillo-Cohen says when violations are documented, your goal is to offer the facility time to respond and also correct problems first. Suspending or revoking a license is a last resort.
“We don’t want to re-traumatize children by simply going in and also closing a facility,” she said. “There room placement interruptions that can be really traumatic come children.”
However, parents like Lisa argue gift abused in neglected is also traumatizing.
“I don’t know who is going to host them (El Pueblo staff)accountable but we need a grand jury,” Lisa said.
Ross request Castillo-Cohen, “Has any kind of El Pueblo employee to be arrested and charged with kid abuse or neglect?”
“Not to my knowledge,” Castillo-Cohen said.
Ross responded, “If any parent walk what several of these El Pueblo employee did to children, castle would likely be behind bars.”
“I to be unaware of any type of employee in ~ El Pueblo that had criminal dues pressed against them,” Castillo-Cohen said. “I think you have the right to take that up through local law enforcement.”
In caseswhere staff members admitted to physically assaulting or abusing children, they to be either terminated or quietly resigned.
Ross asked,“What perform you tell parents who say the State failed your children and failed them?”
“I would certainly say to parents that we care deeply around all children in our state,” Castillo-Cohen said. “What occurred at El Pueblo to be deeply, deeply saddening come us and we desire Colorado families to recognize that we room working tirelessly to prove ours processes.”
In 2016, CDHS switched over to an yearly inspection system. Prior to that, CDHS offered a risk-based assessment because that inspections.
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El Pueblo was on a 2-year investigate cycle. However, Castillo-Cohen says that would not have prevented county DHS workers to perform unscheduled visits together a an outcome of a complaint.