Looking forward to the future of journalism

Telling stories about the unthinkable: How three journalists shined a spotlight on child abuse

Sarah Brasse
Sarah Brasse

In February 2009, an 8-year-old girl from Schertz died, alone, of acute appendicitis — a disease that could have easily been treated if caught in time.

In the hours leading up to her death, people concerned about the girl — including officers from the Schertz Police Department — had warned the Texas Department of Child Protective Services that she was a victim of neglect.

CPS didn’t act. And on Feb. 5, 2009, authorities found the girl’s body in a soiled bed.

Her name was Sarah Brasse.

It wasn’t so long ago in Texas that you would have had a tough time learning any of those tragic details.

In fact, according to the state officials in charge of protecting children from abusive adults, you would have had no legal right to even know Brasse’s name.

And you certainly wouldn’t be able to know the agency missed opportunities to help Brasse.

But a decade of diligent reporting by three Express-News journalists shined a spotlight of transparency on tragedies involving Brasse and scores of other children in San Antonio, helping the public understand the unfathomable.

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New web page: Express-News special reports

Our paper’s web guru, Fernando Ortiz, designed this new web page to showcase some of the best journalism at the San Antonio Express-News. The page offers a list of links to online forums where readers can talk about the stories, and it highlights the most recent project by Todd Bensman about gunrunning in Mexico. At … Read more