SAN ANTONIO — Following Gov. Greg Abbott’s announcement of an impending investigation into allegations of sexual abuse and mistreatment of young asylum-seekers being housed at the Freeman Coliseum complex this week, a top local leader says he had not heard or seen anything resembling the claims prior to Wednesday evening.
Speaking to KENS 5, Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff agreed that immediate action needs to be taken if the claims of sexual abuse are substantiated, but added he doesn’t believe the children and teenagers being housed at the facility – over 1,300 of them, as of Monday – are being neglected.
“I’ve been out there, I’ve seen what’s going on,” Wolff said. “They’re getting three hot meals a day, they’re getting two snacks a day. There’s a separate tent where up to 300 of them are cohorted if they do have COVID.”
Wolff was specifically responding to allegations from Abbott that some minors at the facility aren’t eating, and that those who have tested positive for the coronavirus aren’t isolated from others.
Abbott also said the state has received “very credible allegations” of sexual abuse of minors at the facility as well as claims there is inadequate staffing to properly supervise the minors.
“Health and Human Services (representatives) are out there, Homeland Security is out there, Federal Protective Services is out there. They’ve got…different agencies. CDC’s out there,” Wolff said. “I’ve not heard anything until the governor came down and said this. I just don’t know if it’s true or not, what he’s saying.”
One medical professional with direct knowledge of the operations seconded Wolff’s assessment of the care being provided at the facility.
“I hope (Abbott) recants after he sees what it’s really like right now because these children need us,” the individual told KENS 5 on the condition of anonymity.
Wolff says the county’s next course of action is to get answers from the federal government, adding Bexar County has a right to terminate its agreement regarding the use of Freeman grounds as a temporary shelter within seven days. Meanwhile, Abbott says Texas Rangers will be leading an investigation into the allegations regarding conditions at the Freeman housing operation.