Bastrop County grand jury declines to indict caretaker at center of The Refuge abuse scandal

The Refuge, a shelter for children who were victims of sex trafficking, in Bastrop on April 12, 2022. (Jordan Vonderhaar For The Texas Tribune, Jordan Vonderhaar For The Texas Tribune)

If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, you can receive confidential help by calling the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network’s 24/7 toll-free support line at 800-656-4673 or visiting its online hotline.

A grand jury in Bastrop County did not find enough evidence to indict Iesha Greene, the former caretaker accused of selling nude photos of children at a state-contracted shelter.

Recommended Videos

The Refuge, a foster care facility for victims of sex trafficking in Bastrop, had its license suspended and closed on an emergency basis in March after the allegations against Greene surfaced.

Greene was accused of selling and soliciting nude photos of two girls in her care, using the proceeds to purchase and supply drugs and alcohol to the children. The Refuge fired Greene over the allegations.

“The Grand Jury did not indict Iesha Greene, or any other person, for any offense(s). The Grand Jury did not find sufficient evidence to support an indictment on any criminal offense,” Conor Brown, an investigator with the Bastrop County Sheriff’s Office, wrote to The Refuge. The case was presented to the grand jury on Sept. 13, and the shelter received a copy of the letter in the mail on Tuesday. Brown did not respond to a request for comment.

Brooke Crowder, the founder of The Refuge, said in a statement to The Texas Tribune that “we expected a different outcome from the grand jury because our singular goal has been justice for our two residents who were mistreated by a former employee.”

Testifying before a committee investigating the allegations in late March, Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw said he was confident Greene would be arrested on charges of sexual exploitation of a child and child pornography when law enforcement can provide further evidence.

Court-appointed watchdogs of Texas’ foster care system, meanwhile, have said there is “ample evidence” that former sex trafficking victims were abused at a foster care facility, though they did not mention Greene. U.S. District Judge Janis Jack said she would seek a federal criminal investigation into allegations that children were sexually abused and trafficked at The Refuge.

Greene was previously fired by the Texas Juvenile Justice Department for having inappropriate relationships with children in her care, state records show. The Refuge officials have testified that they run state-required background checks on all prospective employees and that Greene’s screening revealed she did not have a criminal record. The Refuge staff did not reach out to Greene’s previous employers nor did they request her TJJD personnel records when they hired her.

Eight other staff members were also accused of subjecting seven children staying at The Refuge to sexual and physical abuse, neglectful supervision and medical neglect. While Greene was fired immediately after the first report against her emerged on Jan. 24, children remained in the facility until it was forced to close in March.

Crowder said the shelter has created a new employee screening process since it was ordered to close and that she hopes the grand jury’s decision means the facility can reopen soon.

“We are humbled that this decision seems to clear the final obstacle to the restoration of our license, and we hope that our licensing agency and elected officials will expedite that process,” Crowder added. “It is time to once again welcome to our healing community the children whose lives have been upended by exploitation so they can continue their healing process in earnest.”

Recommended Videos