Report: Anti-Immigrant Sheriff Ran Abusive School For At-Risk Youth

Pinal County, Arizona Sheriff Paul Babeu has been a central character in Arizona’s ongoing fight over immigration ever since he appeared in Senator John McCain’s infamous “danged fence” ad in 2010, and was a vocal supporter of the state’s anti-immigrant SB 1070 bill. According to a recent news report, however, he also presided over draconian mistreatment of his students while he was headmaster and executive director of a boarding school for at-risk youth.

A local ABC affiliate in Arizona conducted an exhaustive investigation into Babeu’s time at The DeSisto School, a private boarding school for troubled teenagers in rural Massachusetts. The report alleges that the school, under Babeu’s leadership, punished students by depriving them of food for extended periods of time, forcing them to sit in solitude for weeks, and conducting regular strip searches of them. At least one student suffered severe trauma from his punishment at The DeSisto School:

In one case, records show a student with bi-polar disorder, ADHD and impulse control disorder was “cornered” for “weeks on end.”

The student’s medication was not monitored properly. He began to “urinate and defecate” on himself. He was also taken to the hospital for pneumonia.


Days later, that same student was returned to DeSisto and sent back to the corner.

The ABC report also alleges that Babeu maintained a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old teenage boy from the school. In Massachusetts, the legal age of consent is 17. That news comes just a week after Babeu was outed by a former lover.