Charges are being considered against a Texas judge who sent a minor back into the home of a guardian who was living with a sex offender who later murdered the guardian and raped the juvenile, according to a lawsuit.
Also, three Texas teachers were indicted for failing to tell authorities about the student’s report of threats from the sex offender, the suit notes.
The consequences of the judge’s decision and the actions by the teachers were severe: The student was tied up and raped by the sex offender, who also murdered her guardian in front of the student, according to the lawsuit in Caldwell, Texas.
The Texas Center for Defense of Life late Tuesday filed the action on behalf of the juvenile, identified only with the initials S.R.L. The case seeks a court ruling that the teachers and judge “breached their duty” to the juvenile and compensation.
The defendants in the case are teachers Bliss Bednar, Vance Skidmore and Bradley Vestal as well as the Caldwell Independent School District and a retired judge, Terry Flenniken.
“There is no excuse for Judge Flenniken’s poor decision,” said TCDL attorney Greg Terra. “He knew exactly what the minor was dealing with in her home situation and that she lived with Edward Clinton Lee, a registered sex offender, and yet still sent her back to live with him and her guardian instead of granting the petition to release her to her biological mother.”
Texas Center for Defense of Life Chief Counsel Stephen Casey, left, and President Greg Terra announce, from the Capitol steps in Austin, Texas on Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013.
The court filing states S.R.L. was living with Jean Slovacek-Storm, who previously had been married to S.R.L.’s grandfather. Edward Clinton Lee, a registered sex offender, also was living in the home.
The juvenile’s mother, Angela Belcher, had tried to get her daughter out of the living arrangement through the courts months earlier when S.R.L. became pregnant at age 15 with her 15-year-old boyfriend, but she was rebuffed by Flenniken.
The judge was considering a legal request by TCDL to remove S.R.L., during her pregnancy, from the home where she was living with Slovacek-Storm and Lee.
In that case, Flenniken interviewed S.R.L. privately in his chambers.
In the interview, according to an affidavit, the juvenile told the judge of the threats from Lee. Lee, the statement said, “had repeatedly asked S.R.L. to take off her clothes, even offering her $20 to strip down in front of him.” Also, “S.R.L. would move the dresser against the door, rearranging her room to keep Lee out and going so far as to sleep in her day clothes and not in pajamas so that Lee would not be able to see her change.”
She also reported to the judge Lee would come into the bathroom while she was showering to take pictures.
Flenniken apparently disregarded the girl’s statements.
“Flenniken returned to the courtroom with S.R.L. without making any report to the police about the reported sexual offenses and propositions,” the lawsuit alleges. “Flenniken had no discretion, based on his special relationship with S.R.L. not to intervene and protect S.R.L. … Action was mandatory.”
Then on the morning of June 29, 2012, “about four months after Flenniken sent S.R.L. back to the home of Lee, a registered sex offender, Lee shot and murdered Jean Slovacek-Storm and violently sexually assaulted S.R.L., tying her up,” according to the lawsuit.
“S.R.L. eventually escaped her bonds, left the house through a window, and ran naked down the street to a local school where she found a police officer. On April 30, 2013, Edward Clinton Lee plead[ed] guilty to aggravated sexual assault of S.R.L. and aggravated kidnapping of S.R.L. in conjunction with his plea to capital murder, and was sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole.”
Judge Terry Flenniken, retired in 2012, Burleson County District Court, Texas.
The case alleges that the teachers also knew of the dangers and had not only an opportunity but a responsibility to call authorities long before the assault and murder
In a statement by Terra that was released to WND, he reported that S.R.L. was in Bednar’s English class and was instructed to write about “the best or worst things that has ever happened in their life.”
Terra said: “S.R.L. asked Ms. Bednar if she could write about something that was happening to her right now. Ms. Bednar responded that she may do so if she
changed the names.”
The essay “details the sexual abuse and sexual assault of ‘Sandra’ by ‘Phillip,’” he continued.
But after the essay was turned in, according to Terra, “Edward Clinton Lee and Jean Slovacek-Storm had been contacted by Assistant Principal Vance Skidmore and Principal Bradley Vestal regarding the paper.”
Lee and Slovacek-Storm “strongly admonished S.R.L. for ‘lying in her paper to get Eddie in trouble,’” Terra reported. “S.R.L. was immediately driven to the school and forced to apologize to Bednar, Skidmore, and Vestal for ‘lying’ in her paper.”
The lawsuit alleges once the educators received the knowledge of S.R.L.’s situation, they “had no discretion and were required to report” to authorities.
“Had they reported the abuse outcry, S.R.L. would like not have suffered aggravated sexual assault and kidnapping,” the lawsuit alleges.
Skidmore, Bednar and Vestal have been indicted on a Class A misdemeanor counts of failure to report, and their cases are pending.
According to Terra’s statement regarding the case, the Texas attorney general is reviewing Flenniken’s involvement and “will consider whether any criminal charges will be filed again him.”
Additionally, TCDL is filing grievances against Flenniken with the Texas state bar as well as the State Commission on Judicial Conduct.
School officials declined to respond to a WND request for comment, and Flenniken declined comment when asked by AP.
“So much pain and agony could have been spared for the girl and her family if Judge Flenniken did what any judge in the country would have done and ordered the girl out of the home of the sex offender,” said Stephen Casey, attorney at TCDL. “The shock and horror of what happened to this girl will have lifelong repercussions. The school officials also failed her by not following the mandatory training and reporting of the abuse outcries. Had they adhered to the law, this tragedy would likely have been prevented.”