AUSTIN, Texas - House Bill 4372 is the result of a mother who has spent years fighting for greater oversight of Texas youth camps.
On Tuesday, it passed a vote in the Texas Senate.
Her battle began in 2009 when her then-11-year-old son was abused by a camp counselor, Matthew Bovee, at Camp La Junta near Kerrville. Bovee pleaded guilty to injury to a child and is currently in prison. Channel 2 Investigates covered this story in detail last year.
“I am very happy about this bill, this bill is so important to me,” the mother said. KPRC agreed to shield this woman’s identity to protect her son’s identity. “It is so important for parents to be able to make informed decisions.”
The bill calls for greater transparency and for third-party investigations when allegations of abuse are made. The bill was filed by State Rep. Jim Murphy. Its twin bill was filed by State Sen. John Whitmire.
“Our entire family feels that if this bill can go through, this definitely will give more oversight to camps,” the mother said.
Camps are overseen by the Texas Department of State Health Services and reports of abuse are supposed to be forwarded to the Health and Human Services Commission's Office of Inspector General.
The bill requires the reports to also be sent to the Texas Department Family and Protective Services or “another appropriate agency.”
Camps are also required to share the reporting requirement with parents. As KPRC reported, Camp La Junta did not report this boy's case to state regulators.
“We have the right to demand higher expectations of care for our children,” said Houston Crimestoppers CEO Raina Mankarious.
Mankarious has worked with this family and legislators to see this bill filed, which also makes sustained complaints of abuse and neglect public.
“Parents, after the fact, can actually go on a database and see what the records are for camps,” Mankarious said.
Copyright 2019 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.