State didn’t believe accused child rapist’s victims for years, documents show

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. -- The leader of a group home for at-risk youth has been arraigned in Jefferson County for reportedly abusing boys placed under his care by the Colorado State Department of Human Services.

Wearing a yellow jail jumpsuit, 56-year-old William Sexton stood in front of a judge Monday facing nine criminal counts, eight felonies and one misdemeanor.

The charges, spread within two separate yet connected cases, include five counts of sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust - pattern of abuse, two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, an unlawful sexual contact charge and a bail bond violation.

A FOX31 Problem Solvers investigation first revealed the expanding criminal police probe against Sexton in October.

Since then, at least five teenage male victims living under Sexton’s care at “Bridgeway House” in Lakewood have stepped forward accusing him of molestation and other sex crimes.

Leading up to the arraignment, the FOX31 investigative unit discovered the Colorado State Department of Human Services, which is in charge of protecting those youth, repeatedly failed to heed early warnings.

Colorado has a modern computer system, nicknamed TRAILS, which tracks child abuse cases.

FOX31 used open records laws to peek inside and prove state child welfare investigators received multiple complaints about Sexton’s behavior starting three years ago, but they failed to take action.

Records show in October 2015, a Bridgeway House residential tenant told state investigators Sexton drank vodka or "grandpa juice" with the youth under his care and said that, “When Bill gets drunk, Bill made inappropriate sexual comments.”

A CDHS child welfare investigator ruled the complaint unfounded.

In August 2016, a youth tenant at Bridgeway said he was taking a shower and "claimed he found a camera hidden in the bathroom and did not feel safe."

The state ruled it unfounded again, noting the "youth had a hard time getting along with others."

It is unclear from documentation if the state ever reviewed the recording chip the youth said he had found in the camera.

In 2017, a juvenile at Bridgeway repeatedly reported “Bill had been playing with (blank's) stuff while (blank) was asleep and this has been going on for a while."

A state investigator ruled the allegation "inconclusive," noting, "it appears the youth knew what to say to get a reaction from people."

Internal CDHS files show at least six sexual-related complaints were filed against Sexton, then investigated by state social services over a three-year period, yet Sexton remained in charge of youth at Bridgeway House until June 29, 2018. That's the date DHS, according to a memo obtained by FOX31, realized Sexton "was going to be arrested for sexual assault on a child."

Many of the criminal observations written by Lakewood detectives in the current cases appear to mirror the complaints DHS had previously ruled “unfounded.”

As FOX31 first reported, Sexton was hired by the Denver-based multi-million-dollar nonprofit Savio House.

However, it was the Colorado Department of Human Services who not only put up the money for Sexton's contract but was also responsible for overseeing the safety of at-risk juveniles living at Bridgeway.

Sexton declined to speak with FOX31 after we contacted the Jefferson County jail with a message we’d like to get an interview with him. His trial is tentatively scheduled for May.

Likewise, both Savio House and officials at the Colorado Department of Human Services refused to answer our questions about either Sexton’s case or its investigative processes.

A teenage victim and his family, watching off to the side of our cameras at Sexton’s arraignment Monday, labeled Sexton a “monster.”

If that is proven to be the case, he’s a monster that, according to internal state child abuse investigation records, could have been stopped years ago.

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