Immigrant children face horrible conditions. The shelters they’re placed in forcibly drug them and have histories of abuse. ThinkProgress is now reporting that a center in Kansas that shelters migrant children has an employee with a record of sex crimes.
“The Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF) takes this situation very seriously,” DCF spokesperson Taylor Forrest said in a statement to ThinkProgress. “Secretary Gina Meier-Hummel is actively looking into the concerns and issues concerning Mr. Montague’s employment at The Villages, Inc., and she remains committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of children in Kansas.”
Mr. Montague is Jeffrey J. Montague, 63, an employee at The Villages in Topeka, Kansas, one of the shelters undocumented children are sent to after crossing the southern border.
It’s not just his solicitation bust that ThinkProgress uncovered, but Boy Scouts of America records that alleged Montague made inappropriate advances on an exchange student at a high school where he worked in 1989.
The Villages assured reporters that Montague passed a background check, but as ThinkProgress notes, neither the Boy Scouts record nor the solicitation bust appear in LexisNexis, the most common tool used for background checks.
Kansas Governor Jeff Coyler (R) called on The Villages to fire Montague.
“While it appears that the rules governing federal contractors allow his continued employment at this facility based upon the technical letter of the law, it is our hope that The Villages will choose to do the right thing for the vulnerable children they serve and separate him from this position based upon the information publicly available,” a spokesperson told local news WIBW.
The Department of Health and Human Services has a $5.9 million contract with The Villages for the housing of unaccompanied immigrant minors. This is out of a total of $1.3 billion Congress has given HHS this year alone for this purpose.
And Topeka isn’t the only place this money is going to questionable providers. The issue of sexual misconduct is not limited to Montague. Texas inspectors found cases of “inappropriate contact” widespread in the state, including an incident where a staff member gave a child a pornographic magazine. Another child in Texas had an untreated sexually transmitted disease.
In one of the rare instances where a contract to house migrant children was terminated, regulators found over 100 deficiencies with the company, International Education Services, including sexual abuse.
All this is to say nothing of the deep scarring to migrant children by Trump’s short-lived family separation policy, which will last a lifetime for those children who endured it.
Back in Topeka, Montague seems to be relatively safe in his employment.
“I’m not going to go searching for Jeff’s background,” The Villages’ lead caseworker, Judette Padilla, said in a recording obtained by ThinkProgress. “I am not concerned, because I know he passed all the background checks he needed to pass to work with kids.”
Background checks that omitted his attempt to seduce a student at a high school where he worked.
Katelyn Kivel is a contributing editor for Grit Post in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Follow her on Twitter @KatelynKivel.