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State moving juveniles out of Pulaski County lockup; sexual misconduct case investigated at center for youths

by Teresa Moss | July 26, 2022 at 7:13 a.m.
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The state is moving children out of the Pulaski County Juvenile Detention Center after learning about a sheriff's office investigation into sexual misconduct at the facility.

Juveniles under the control of the state Division of Youth Services will leave the facility as space becomes available at other locations, Gavin Lesnick, Department of Human Services spokesman, said Monday.

"There has been no change to the contract between DYS and Pulaski County," Lesnick said in a statement. "We will re-evaluate this discussion as we learn more and the Pulaski County sheriff's office investigation progresses."

Kristin Knox, Pulaski County sheriff's office spokesperson, confirmed the investigation Monday.

"We are actively investigating what was forwarded to our office," Knox said.

About 40 juvenile inmates were housed at the juvenile detention facility Monday. Thirteen of those are Division of Youth Services inmates, according to Madeline Roberts, Pulaski County spokeswoman.

After receiving questions from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette over the weekend, Pulaski County, which runs the facility, released a statement Monday afternoon about the report of sexual misconduct. It said the sheriff's office received a report from the Arkansas State Police.

The report alleges that an employee at the Juvenile Detention Center committed sexual misconduct, the statement says. It goes on to say that the employee has been put on paid administrative leave while an investigation is completed.

"The safety and protection of our children is the county's top priority," Pulaski County Judge Barry Hyde said in the prepared statement. "We appreciate the prompt action of the State Police and hope for a quick resolution."

Bill Sadler with the Arkansas State Police said the agency is over the Crimes Against Children office, which fields reports of child maltreatment. He said any reports that could be criminal are given to the proper authorities -- in this case, the Pulaski County sheriff's office.

As of midday Monday, Sadler said the Arkansas State Police is not involved in the investigation. It would only become involved if requested by the Pulaski County sheriff's office.

Lesnick said the Division of Youth Services uses the Pulaski County Detention Center as a short-term stay for juveniles waiting to be assessed. The assessment is used to determine if the juvenile will be placed in a specific treatment program or a group home.

Juveniles can be ordered by a judge to Division of Youth Services care if declared delinquent by a court, according to the Arkansas Department of Health website. The delinquent designation means the juvenile committed an act that would be considered a crime if committed by an adult.

Print Headline: State moving juveniles out of lockup; sexual misconduct case investigated at center


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