An activist who spent nearly 10 years in prison for forcible rape welcomed children to a Texas anti-pipeline camp in February before being arrested last week for breaking parole in California.
Rabago Gutierrez, a prominent activist opposing a Texas pipeline, welcomed more than two dozen minors into the Two Rivers Camp in Texas, The Washington Examiner reported Thursday. He spent several years in prison during the 1980s and 1990s for rape and charges he had sex with a minor.
“We had 25 high school students from Colorado come to camp to learn more about the camp, and what is happening with the Pipeline. Great weekend,” Gutierrez, who went by the name “Peter Hefflin” while on the lamb, narrates in a video posted to Facebook in February. The video has since been taken down.
Gutierrez, a security guard at the Two Rivers Camp, said the students traveled from Colorado. He described the young activists as “a bunch of good looking kids.” Other photos on the campsite’s Facebook show elementary-aged children in the camp as well.
He was arrested in 1984 and served a lengthy sentence before being released on parole, the California Department of Corrections said. Guetierrez would later go on to flee California and wind up in Texas, where he changed his name and became a leading figure in the anti-pipeline movement.
The committed activist was a leading opponent of the Trans-Pecos pipeline, a 148-mile project transporting natural gas through the Big Bend region in Texas to Mexico. Activists are trying to turn the project into the next Dakota Access Pipeline, a multi-billion oil pipeline in North Dakota Indian American tribes widely oppose.
Some environmentalists have blasted their former colleague, while others were more willing to grant him leniency.
Lori Glover, co-founder of Defend Big Bend, told reporters that Guetierrez had already served his sentence in a cruel penal justice system. He helped found Glover’s group.
“He served his time, made a new start,” she said “I was unaware of any of this past history. Despite that, I feel very privileged to have worked with Pete Hefflin.”
Liberal group Society of Native Nations (SNS), on the other hand, seemed more willing to hold Guetierrez accountable for his actions.
“We’ve always been about holding people accountable,” said Frankie Orona, the group’s executive director, on whose board Gutierrez served, “and in this situation, he was definitely wrong. I am upset with him.”
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