Sheriff Paul Babeu's Apologists Make Light of Student Abuse to Defend the Embattled Sheriff
Michael DeSisto, founder of DeSisto School, poses with young men. Paul Babeu served as the school's headmaster from 1999 to 2001.
We recently came across a February 27 segment from Jim Sharpe's talk show on KFYI about Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu's time as headmaster at the DeSisto School in Massachusetts -- a school for troubled teens where state officials found sexual and physical abuse was occurring.
Sharpe and his on-air sidekick were defending Babeu in light of some of the facts that ABC 15 had reported the previous night.
During the show, Sharpe made light of the abusive treatment the students received, comparing them being stripped naked and forced to wear nothing but a bed sheet for as long as a year to toga day in school.
Sharpe: "Well, if the sheets are thick enough, you know. We had toga day at school when I was in high school! We did!"
He also compared the group showers students at DeSisto had to take to P.E. class in high school.
Sharpe: "...state documents say that students ... routinely took group showers, leading to sexual abuse. Now, if they, did you not take group showers when you were in PE?!
Andrew Babinski: Yeah.
Sharpe: "If something bad happened in there, is that the fault of the school or the fault of the executive director? I would say not necessarily -- although if something bad was happening that, then, then something needed to be done to stop it."
He also compared the "cornering" that DeSisto students experienced to your average "time out."
Sharpe: "...one of the other punishments was 'cornering.' And when I heard 'cornering,' I really rolled my eyes."
He goes on to explain that some students were left there for weeks on end; that they were urinating and defecating on themselves.
But, of course, Babeu had no responsibility for what was happening at the school -- why should he? -- He was only the headmaster and executive director.
Sharpe: Now, I'm not sayin' all this just to defend Paul Babeu. I just, what I'm doing is I'm tryin' to lay out for ya' how sometimes these investigative stories work. You know, if you get a name that means something to somebody that's associated with it, then you sell newspapers, you get people to watch our broadcast."
The facts behind the stories about what happened at DeSisto School are laid out in public records from the Massachusetts Office of Child Care Services and are recounted by the students who attended the school. Read New Times' interviews with students who attended the school during Babeu's tenure.
Then, Sharpe and company poke fun of Lucy Babeu because of comments she posted on New Times website noting that "Paul has blocked me from seeing the comments and blogging on any article there."
Sharpe: "His sister is claiming that the Sheriff of Pinal County has the ability to block her from commenting on stories on the internet. That's someone who does not have a full grasp, in my opinion, a full grasp of how real life works."
But, it is Sharpe that doesn't seem to have a grasp of what Babeu is capable of, because as it turns out, blocking his sister and attempting to block his Mexican lover from posting comments online is exactly what Babeu was doing.
In an Arizona Daily Star story, Tim Steller reports:
"In November 2010, former Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods but by then a private attorney, sent cease-and-desist letters to two Apache Junction news outlets on Babeu's behalf, editors of each publication said. The letter Ed Barker received demanded that he remove comments by Babeu's estranged sister Lucy, said Barker, editor of the Apache Junction News.
The letter said "that I was printing blogs from Babeu's sister about his gay lifestyle, and that I was to immediately cease and desist," Barker said.
It turned out Woods had the wrong news outlet in that first letter: Lucy Babeu had been making comments on the Apache Junction Independent's website. The editor of that publication, Richard Dyer, said he got a cease-and-desist letter in November 2010 and passed it on to the company's webmaster.
Lucy Babeu said her comments were removed, and she was banned from commenting on the site."
And, of course, now we know that Babeu also attempted the same thing to keep his ex-boyfriend silent by getting his attorney Chris DeRose to try to strong-arm the ex into silence.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Phoenix New Times' biggest stories.