Judge reacts to child advocate ally facing federal charges

Texas Sen. Carlos Uresti founded task force against child abuse, neglect

By Jessie Degollado - Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - The night after state Sen. Carlos Uresti was indicted, arrested and freed on bond accused of bribery, fraud and money laundering, he got a phone call from a longtime ally in the fight against child abuse and neglect.

District Judge Peter Sakai, who oversees the Bexar County children’s court division, said Uresti remained focused on the latest efforts to reform Child Protective Services.

“All he wanted to do was focus on good CPS legislation,” Sakai said. “I gave him my opinions and he’s going to work, I know, for the children and families in Bexar County.”

Sakai spoke before Friday’s Family Drug Court graduation ceremony, which he says Uresti often attended. The event celebrates mothers and fathers now clean and sober, being reunited with their children who have been in CPS custody due to their parents substance abuse.

Given the charges against Uresti, Sakai said he remains hopeful and will continue to pray for Uresti’s family. However, being a district judge, Sakai said, “We need to have full confidence and trust in our justice system.”

Whatever the outcome, Sakai said the Blue Ribbon Task Force against child abuse and neglect and other child advocates will continue as they have.

“We are strong,” Sakai said. He predicts there will be a new generation fighting on behalf of families in crisis. 

Uresti founded the Blue Ribbon Task Force in 2003, when he was state representative, after 4-year-old Jovonie Ochoa died of starvation on Christmas Day.

Sakai said he doesn’t consider the grave charges against Uresti as a crippling blow.

“No, we’re going to move on,” Sakai said. “We will move on and continue to work hard to do the right thing.”

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