What the Houston district attorney’s office did to a rape victim known as “Jenny” was nothing short of atrocious.
In Houston, Keith Hendricks was on trial for the rape of “Jenny.”
Jenny, who suffers from bipolar disorder, couldn’t continue her testimony on Dec. 8, 2015.
Court transcripts show she was incoherent, broke down and ran from court saying she’d never return.
Which is understandable. Having to relive that experience would be tough on anyone, let alone someone already suffering from mental health issues. The trial was adjourned until January, but the prosecutor, Nicholas Socias, wanted to make sure that Jenny would be available to testify. He asked for a body attachment, which the judge granted. Initially, she went to the local mental hospital, where eventually her condition improved. As soon as her mental health stabilized,
she went home to her family for the holidaysshe was locked up in the Harris County Jail, where she remained until January 14, when the trial was over.
And Jenny did not do well in the Harris County Jail.
Dec. 18: Released from the mental hospital, when Harris County D.A. personnel take her directly to jail without passing go or collecting $200. The jail makes a mistake on her booking paperwork, putting her down as a perpetrator of Aggravated Sexual Assault, not as a witness. Whoops!
Dec. 23: Jenny visits the prison doctor because of a fight with another inmate, which left a “nickel sized hematoma” on her forehead. What are the odds that bipolar rape victim, mistaken for a rapist, is going to have difficulties in jail?
Jan. 8: Jenny has a breakdown and supposedly hits a guard, who hits her back. Jenny is charged with assault, which is later dismissed. What a deal!
Devon Anderson, the elected district attorney of Harris County, was not about to take this slur on her good offices lying down. So, in defiance of the “objections of her general counsel,” she ripped off her prosecutor facade and went buck naked on video.
Does she not come off serious, sincere, angry? Do you want a “serial rapist” to go out and rape your wife, your daughter, your mother? What could she possibly have done to secure the testimony of a “homeless, mentally ill” witness?
Well, glad you asked Devon, if only implicitly.
You could have rented a room at the Motel 6 down by the interstate and put a guard by the door to keep Jenny from fleeing. Buy her breakfast from the Waffle House, dinner at Applebee’s, maybe babyback ribs from Chili’s on Saturday night, just to be nice.
You could have put her in your guest bedroom and cooked her some nice grits for breakfast.
You could have asked one of your assistants if they have a guest cottage where a rape victim could be housed. Maybe give them a couple extra days off to compensate for their kindness.
You could have used your authority as the Harris County District Attorney to persuade the mental hospital to keep her beyond ten days.
You could have asked the judge for an order to compel the mental hospital to keep her beyond the ten days.
You could have found a private facility that could provide her with mental health services until you no longer needed her and tossed this homeless, mentally ill rape victim back on the streets to fester in her world of misery.
You could have listened to your general counsel and not made a video in which your strip naked and expose yourself as full of shit. But you didn’t.
There is a subtext to Devon Anderson’s shocking response to hard-earned criticism of the outrageous conduct of her office. They want to convict the bad guy. That’s fair, provided they play by the rules to do so. But what they don’t give a damn about is the harm they cause in the process of convicting the bad guy. They may say they do. Devon may put on her very serious official face and tell you that she does, she really does. But she doesn’t.
But let’s assume, even though it’s nonsense, that Devon neglected to mention that the wealth of alternatives in her disastrous handling of Jenny was dictated by, oh, budgetary constraints. After all, when you spend small fortunes on fighting to assure the execution of defendants who “need killin’,” there isn’t a lot of money left over to warehouse a witness. What options were presented for a prosecutrix on a shoestring?
You could have made sure she was housed in the Harris County jail’s mental health facility rather than general population.
You could have made sure her commitment papers reflected she was a material witness, a friggin’ rape victim, rather than a perp accused of Aggravated Sexual Assault.
You could have had a nice chat with the Harris County sheriff, Ron Hickman (he takes your calls, right?), and asked him to be particularly kind to Jenny, and make sure the screws know that she’s a rape victim, not the typical mutt they treat so poorly.
But what you did instead was atrocious. And what you’re doing now, conclusively proving that you are either a fairly good actress or a pretty nasty liar, would be adorable but for the fact that you burned a rape victim in the process.
It’s one thing to use a material witness warrant when the witness needed by the prosecution is a mutt testifying against a skel. These may be human beings to us outsiders, but to prosecutors, they’re just cogs in their conviction machine, unworthy of concern and, well, deserving of whatever harm may come to them. Let’s be honest, Devon, if your witness is a drug dealer, you may praise his dedication to justice in front of the jury, but won’t cry too hard if he suffers a daily rape until he takes the stand.
But Jenny? She was no mutt. She was no drug dealer. She was no subhuman who won’t make prosecutors cry sad tears if a little retribution happens to come their way. But she was homeless. She was mentally ill. She was a recalcitrant witness. She wasn’t exactly the sort of victim you invite to dinner or a State of the Republic speech. She may not have been a mutt, but she wasn’t quite a person to you either.
Where is Jenny today, Devon? Do you know? Do you care? Of course you don’t, because you got what you wanted from the “victim,” and now she can go back in that hole where people you don’t really give a damn about spend their lives.