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Former El Pueblo Ranch employees speak out on abuse allegations - KOAA.com | Continuous News | Colorado Springs and Pueblo

Former El Pueblo Ranch employees speak out on abuse allegations

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PUEBLO -

Three days after the El Pueblo Boys and Girls Ranch license was pulled over allegations of abuse, former employees got together again on Friday for a balloon release.

For the first time, former employees who wanted to show how heartbroken and sad they are about losing the children in their care are speaking out to News 5.

"I wouldn't be so upset about it if I didn't care for them," Anna A., a former employee said.

At least two dozen workers, now out of a job, each releasing a balloon to show the love and support of their former residents.

"I know I've been crying for the last few days since it all happened and it's not even the job, the job is disposable, you can find a job anywhere, but I miss my kids," she said.

"I showed these kids love, I have young men that I was like a father figure to them," Jeremiah Duran, a former employee said.

One former employee says the allegations of abuse are exaggerated but, when it comes to the lack of supervision accusations, one former employee did admit, staffing has been low.

"There's definitely a shortage in staff, this is not an easy job, people come into this job again, thinking they're going to be summer camp counselors and it's not," Anna A. said.

News 5 showed you this incident on Tuesday, caught on camera between an El Pueblo employee and a resident where an internal report says the worker was simply lowering the client to the ground for both of their safety.

"If something like that happened here at El Pueblo on camera, you were fired on the spot," another former employee who didn't want to be identified said. "That's not how it ran, El Pueblo would not have you here taking care of these kids who have been through abuse, who have been through all this kind of stuff, why would they keep you?" 

While that incident was recorded on camera, the state's report shows some workers would hit children in areas with no cameras.

"I don't think that's true, we had cameras all the time on us, there's cameras everywhere," she said.

"I did the best that I could to empower these kids, and there's quite a bit of staff that have done 100 more times to help them out," Duran said.

The Colorado Department of Human Services says the kids were moved to different facilities or returned to their parents pending a formal hearing.

Depending on what happens, its license could be permanently revoked.

The investigation is ongoing and News 5 will be tracking it every step of the day.

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