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Another worker at Chicago center accused of abusing foster children in his care

Another worker at Chicago center accused of abusing foster children in his care
Another worker at Chicago center accused of abusing foster children in his care 02:55

CHICAGO (CBS) – A former standout college football star with a criminal history was charged with sexually abusing a foster child in the care of a Chicago facility.

The center, Aunt Martha's, was already in the middle of an investigation after multiple other workers there were accused of abuse.

Trulon Henry, a manager at Aunt Martha's, was arrested and charged last week with sexually abusing a young girl in the care of the facility's integrated care center. He was a supervisor in charge of taking care of some of the state's most vulnerable foster children.

The arrest came soon after Antonio Hopkins, who worked for Aunt Martha's through a third-party security firm, was also arrested and charged with abuse of a child.

The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services started investigating the case last August, but didn't stop sending kids there until May.

In addition to the two arrests, CBS News Chicago learned another supervisor was being investigated. There were also about 170 other pending investigations involving Aunt Martha's Integrated Care Center (ICC).

"It's incredibly high," said Alpa Jayanti Patel, chief deputy public guardian for the Office of the Cook County Public Guardian.

Patel said the judges who handle placements weren't made aware of the accusations until several months later and continued placing children at Aunt Martha's as a result.

"Nobody knew about it," Patel said. "Nobody was informed about it, the courts were certainly not informed about it, and that to me doesn't pass the smell test at all."

The lack of knowledge left children vulnerable.

"These children again, were basically proven right by believing that no adult was out there looking after them, and that they were pretty much fair game to anybody to victimize them," Patel said.

Henry was a standout linebacker at the University of Illinois, graduating in 2011. His real-life redemption story of being convicted of armed robbery when he was 19 was a fact highlighted in several news reports and in a Big Ten Network feature story in 2010.

CBS News Chicago asked Aunt Martha's and DCFS how Henry was able to work with foster children given his previous criminal conviction and why courts weren't notified of abuse allegations earlier.

DCFS didn't answer those questions but confirmed that all kids had been removed from Aunt Martha's as of June 30.

"Everyone let them down," Patel said. "That's the reality of the situation."

DCFS said it put in place 24/7 monitoring at the facility, which continued until all the kids in care were moved out.

Aunt Martha's said it would not have hired anyone if a background check showed a violent felony conviction. It remained unclear exactly why Henry's conviction and prison time didn't show up.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Aunt Martha's said: 

"All Aunt Martha's employees working with youth-in-care go through a rigorous state mandated background check which includes fingerprinting and other screenings. If any report were to come back disclosing an individual had a violent felony conviction, they would be barred from employment. 

Aunt Martha's learned of allegations against employee Trulon M. Henry earlier this year and promptly reported it to DCFS and cooperated with law enforcement authorities. Aunt Martha's suspended Henry and then terminated his employment. Aunt Martha's is providing any and all cooperation to ensure Henry is held accountable.

Regarding reports of pending investigations, Aunt Martha's reports every kind of incident to DCFS regardless of where the incident occurred – its facility, school, or perhaps a family visit.  Reported incidents include everything from school suspensions and accidental injuries to allegations of abuse.  After Aunt Martha's reports allegations of abuse to DCFS, we fully cooperate with DCFS as it investigates. We have never been notified of any DCFS finding of abuse or neglect against Aunt Martha's as an organization."

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