Sheriff Paul Babeu repeatedly tried Monday to downplay his role at a now-shuttered Massachusetts boarding school where widespread abuse occurred during his tenure.
In a news conference on the State Capitol lawn, Babeu criticized a flood of political attack advertisements that focus on the DeSisto School and an ABC15 investigation that exposed a 1999 home video of him praising inhumane practices used on special needs students.
With a 1,700-page investigation conducting by Massachusetts sitting by his side, Babeu said that the documents prove he is innocent of anything that happened at the school. He also claimed that he was only responsible for handling the school’s finances.
“The evidence here proves my complete and full innocence,” Babeu said. (See evidence from hundreds of pages of the investigation at the end of this story).
Before he was a tough-talking sheriff, Babeu served as Headmaster of the DeSisto School from 1999 to 2001.
In May 2000, Massachusetts Office of Child Care Services launched a lawsuit and investigation against DeSisto directly in the middle of Babeu’s tenure. The state’s ongoing lawsuit -- to force DeSisto to become licensed and stop abusive practices -- eventually drove the school to shut down in 2004, records show.
In fall of 2001, weeks after Babeu left the school, a judge ordered that the state needed to stop many of its dangerous tactics, court records show.
Surprisingly, Sheriff Babeu also claimed Monday the 1700 pages of records show that none of the abusive practices used at the school were found to have happened.
However, the 1,700 pages directly contradict that claim (ABC15 obtained hundreds of pages of the same records through a public records request in 2012).
The large file provided to the media includes reports, depositions and affidavits given by state investigators, students, parents, and DeSisto staff. Some of the newly-released records outline abuse even more troubling than previously reported.
Babeu also announced Monday that he filed a State Bar complaint against the state’s lead attorney against the DeSisto School. The attorney’s name is Katherine Clark, who coincidentally is now a Democrat congresswoman representing Massachussetts.
Babeu’s bar complaint was filed because of an interview Clark conducted with ABC15 in March. Clark said the abuse at DeSisto was horrific and that Babeu and other school officials stonewalled the state’s investigation.
The bar complaint alleges that Clark made false statements about Babeu and that he stonewalled the case. But, a judge ruled against DeSisto officials and issued sanctions for violating court orders and failing to turn over discovery during a period from 2000 to 2001, court records show.
Rep. Clark released this statement late Monday.
"The abuse of vulnerable children at the DeSisto School was some of the worst I encountered during my career as an advocate for children. As its headmaster, Paul Babeu was not only aware of the abusive practices at the school, he praised them. I wish he had spent a fraction of the effort he's putting into trying to save his political career into protecting the children at the school he led."
Contact ABC15 Investigator Dave Biscobing at firstname.lastname@example.org