Arizona Senator Ron Gould, a Republican, is calling for his opponent, Sheriff Paul Babeu to resign as Sheriff and drop out of the race for Congress after an ABC15 Investigation uncovered allegations of physical and sexual abuse at a boarding school where Babeu was once Headmaster and Executive Director.
While Babeu was in charge, the Office of Child Care Services in Massachusetts found the DeSisto School was unlicensed.
The state’s investigation also reveals students "strip searched" each other and "routinely took group showers"... "leading to sexual abuse."
When the rules at the school were broken, students faced serious consequences.
Documents show one of the punishments was called being “sheeted”.
Some students were forced to strip down and wear nothing but a sheet in front of their peers.
Another punishment in the reports refers to being “cornered”.
Two former students told us that being “cornered” meant sitting, facing the wall for hours, days and sometimes weeks.
Since our story first aired, we have heard from about a dozen additional former students from across the country. One of them lives right here in the Valley and said she spent much of her time in the corner.
Former Student from the Valley
Melissa Burech was already attending the DeSisto School when Babeu came on as Headmaster.
Burech refers to her time there as “the worst experience of my life.”
Babeu ran the school from 1999-2001.
Burech told ABC15 conditions at the school worsened after Babeu took over.
“Definitely, everything was more strict,” said Burech. “The punishments were harsher.”
Her time there still haunts her today.
“The big one is the nightmares and night terrors. I have dreams that I'm stuck there.”
Melissa, several other students, and Babeu's own sister, Lucy tell the ABC15 Investigators that Babeu carried on a relationship with a 17-year-old male student at the school while he was Headmaster.
“Babeu abused his power and took this student off campus way more than a student was allowed to be off campus,” according to Burech. “He broke every rule to be with that student.”
“I hope Arizona gets to see the real Paul Babeu,” she said.
Babeu left the school in 2001. The state closed the school in 2004.
Sheriff Babeau has refused an on-camera interview.
His office told us Babeu served three years at the school and he was never the target of any investigation.
©2007 The E.W. Scripps Co. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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