Mike Waguespack, an adjunct professor in the Criminal Justice Department at Tarleton State University and former member of the FBI, has now spent six years as a Court-Appointed Special Advocate for the Cross Timbers Area.
Waguespack was involved with the FBI for almost 30 years, handling counterintelligence, counterterrorism and violent crimes investigations as a field investigator, squad supervisor and senior executive at several important components of the federal law enforcement and intelligence communities. Throughout his career, he investigated, supervised and contributed to several significant espionage cases involving the United States’ national security.
Waguespack also served as a certified police instructor during his FBI career, having completed the FBI’s General Police Instructor training course at the FBI Academy. With a Bachelor of Arts degree in education, Waguespack also taught at the senior high school level prior to beginning his FBI career.
After he retired from the FBI, Waguespack and his wife, Frances, moved to Stephenville in 2011 from the Washington D.C. area. He was introduced to an individual named Sonny Lyerly who talked to him about his involvement with CASA.
Waguespack became interested and after finishing up his master’s degree in criminal justice, he became a CASA advocate.
“The importance of CASA really is to be the independent eyes and ears of the court,” he said.
Court Appointed Special Advocates is a national association in the United States that supports and promotes court-appointed advocates for abused or neglected children in order to provide children with a safe and healthy environment in permanent homes.
Waguespack said that becoming a CASA advocate is a commitment.
“Obviously, the objective is to find a permanent home for them. We, as CASA advocates, spend a lot of time just monitoring their situation, making sure they’re getting the medical help that they need, the therapy they likely will need,” he said. “In many cases, we are that constant adult in their lives. They may be going from foster home to foster home. They may have multiple CPS case workers because of turnover personnel, [but] as CASA advocates, we make a commitment to stay with that case at least for a year to year and a half that most of these cases will be in the court system.”
He said that in many situations, he has been with a child during their case for two to three years because they can’t find a permanent home for them.
“The key phrase is, ‘What’s in the best interest of the child?’” he said.
Waguespack said that becoming a CASA advocate has been one of the most meaningful things he has ever done.
“I thought I had seen everything when I was in the FBI but the things I have seen the children go through in their lives is just unbelievable to me in terms of the abuse and neglect that we see in our society today and so I've kind of committed myself to looking out for the benefit of children and those circumstances,” he said.
Since Waguespack has been with CASA, he has had 13 cases and 29 children. One case in particular really stands out.
Galvin was a 7-year-old who was removed from his home with his two sisters. Waguespack got involved midway through the case because the original advocate couldn’t continue to work on the case.
“[Galvin] had a lot of issues, a lot of anger issues and because of all of these anger issues, it was very difficult to find a placement for him and of course his paper trail, as a result, was not a positive paper trail, so whenever you get a potential adoption family, they see that paper trail, and say, ‘No,’ so because of his very serious anger issues, he had to be placed in a residential treatment center,” he said.
Waguespack stayed with Galvin for two years, working with his therapist and personnel to help them understand Galvin. He was the only constant in Galvin’s life and worked with CPS to find a family to adopt him.
Galvin and Waguespack still remain in contact.
“He’s just a special young man to me, but he went from a very angry young man to a young boy that is doing very well in school. He’s turned his life around and it’s not just because of me, the whole system helped, but having been a part of that was very special. It remains very special to me,” he said.
Waguespack is also a member of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children/Team Adam. He is one of six in the state of Texas.
He is also involved with the Catholic Diocese of Forth Worth as a safe environment coordinator and facilitator for the Diocese training.
But CASA is what motivated him to help and stand up for children.
“CASA is really the first thing that got me going and peaked my interest and [helped me to understand] what many of our children are going through and why we need, as adults, to look after their best interest,” he said.
Waguespack wants to encourage more individuals, and especially men, to become CASA advocates.
In the Cross Timbers area, there are 33 advocates and only eight are men.
“There are so many young boys and young men who need a positive male role model in their life and I want to encourage more men to look into it and think about it, think about becoming a CASA advocate. We could use a lot more males in the system,” he said.