The recent media reports regarding Ware Youth Center assert that the District Attorney of Red River Parish has only prosecuted three instances involving allegations of sexual abuse of clients by the staff at Ware. According to Julie Jones, Red River Parish District Attorney, “This is absolutely true.” What is not being said is that the current DA has received only four reports involving sexual abuse from law enforcement, three of which have been prosecuted to completion and one 2022 case is pending. She further noted that, “In each case that is prosecuted, we evaluate the evidence and the law prior to charging and resolving a case. In all three cited cases of sexual abuse, we considered all relevant factors, including the best interests of the victims. All three cases resulted in felony convictions and, none of these convictions resulted from pleas to lesser charges than those for which the defendant was arrested by law enforcement. In each case, the defendant was prosecuted and pled guilty as initially charged.”
It is law enforcement, and not the District Attorney, who is charged with investigating criminal complaints. When a criminal complaint is made, law enforcement investigates the allegations, develops the evidence and determines whether sufficient evidence exists to make an arrest or seek an arrest warrant. Once an arrest has been made, the file is delivered to the District Attorney for consideration. The District Attorney then evaluates the case and charges only those offenses that are supported by evidence which is admissible in court. “This is the procedure that was followed in these three cited cases of abuse,” said Jones.
Recent media articles reported many instances of misconduct and criminal allegations. The DA commented that, “Our office will fully cooperate with the investigation recently announced by the Governor into the allegations about staff misconduct at Ware Youth Center.”
She further stated that, “If additional cases, other than those which have been prosecuted or are currently pending prosecution, are referred by law enforcement, the District Attorney’s Office will prosecute the cases if the evidence supports those actions. This is what I have done as your District Attorney for the last thirteen years and will continue to do in service to the citizens of Red River Parish and the State of Louisiana.”
Editor’s note: The Journal had placed several calls when the story was first published by the New York Times to the District Attorney and her assistant at their office. We received no response directly to our requests for comment. The above was a news release prepared by Barbara C. Carey, President, The Communication Institute of Baton Rouge.
Here are the links to the recent articles the Journal published on Ware Youth Center: