Houston, TX — A Houston woman has been traumatized by the District Attorney’s office, following her report of being raped by a serial rapist. According to Click2Houston, “Jenny, who is in her 20s, was the star witness in the rape trial of Keith Hendricks after he violently raped and choked her. Hendricks was eventually sentenced to two life sentences for raping women.”
But during the trial, Jenny broke down while testifying against Hendricks. Fearing that her star witness would not return to testify, prosecutors decided Jenny, who suffers from bipolar disorder, would need to go to the hospital, and then to jail. Yes, that’s right. After a brief stay at St. Joseph’s Medical Center, Jenny was “handcuffed, put in the back of a patrol car and taken to jail,” according to her attorney Sean Buckley. Adding insult to injury, apparently, not only was the witness raped, forced to testify in front of others about her.
Adding insult to injury, apparently, not only was the witness raped, forced to testify in front of others about her trauma but then she was rewarded by being forced to spend nearly a month in jail. A month!
The highly unusual move occurred when prosecutors presented the trial judge with a “witness bond.” The judge, Stacey W. Bond, signed the order but cannot comment on the case because the rapist is appealing his conviction. So to paint the picture, at least for around 30 days, both the victim and the perpetrator were locked behind bars. This miscarriage of justice just re-victimized the victim and led to a historic shake-up in the district attorney’s office.
Kim Ogg, a former prosecutor, used Jenny’s case to highlight one of the many injustices she perceived to be taking place in Houston. Ogg, who successfully ran against the DA (Devon Anderson) whose office put Jenny in jail, used Jenny’s story to get elected. At the time of the jailing of the rape victim, Ogg was highly critical of Anderson’s office. She told reporters, “Putting a witness in jail on a material witness bond, is highly irregular and reserved for the worst of the worst witnesses, maybe gang cases.
"They can be protected by placing them in a hotel, they can be placed with family, you can keep in contact,” she said saying there must have been another way to get Jenny the medical help she needed and still ensure her testimony.
Incredulously, the DA, Devon Anderson, defended her office’s actions in a videotaped response to the criticism. “I have carefully reviewed the case and fully support our prosecutor's actions. It bears repeating this was an extraordinarily difficult and unusual situation. There were no apparent alternatives that would ensure both the victim's safety and her appearance at trial." Anderson reportedly would not speak with reporters who wished to grill her on the matter.
Ogg went on to defeat Anderson during the election for District Attorney, and saying she’s shaking things up may be an understatement. In a related story that The Free Thought Project brought you earlier this month, on election night, Ogg stated Houston would no longer be taking marijuana users to jail.
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Off said she never felt comfortable locking up potheads with murderers and would no longer do so. And turning her attention to Jenny’s case, Ogg has since fired 37 prosecutors at the Harris County District Attorney’s office, including the prosecutor who had Jenny jailed. “I think this case, more than anything else, became the litmus test for the public about what type of justice system they wanted," Ogg told reporters.
Buckley and Jenny are now suing the city. The attorney told reporters that neither her medical records nor her medicines came with her after she left the psychiatric unit and was presented to the jail. She stated the medical staff at the jail didn’t know that she was actually a witness and not a criminal.
In at least one of the jail’s medical records, Jenny was listed as a sex offender. "So those conversations are noted and mentioned in the medical records, and the context of that is the medical staff thought she was disoriented," Buckley said.
"I have great concern that a human being was handled like a piece of evidence…It has caused me great concern a year later," Ogg said adding, "We are still not clear on who is responsible for which actions."
Ogg, the new district attorney, has promised to open another investigation into Jenny’s treatment at the hands of the prosecution and the DA’s office. Ogg says she wants to know what led to Jenny being held on a witness bond in the first place and what precisely was communicated to the jail when she was transported there. Jenny’s case, as horrendous as it appears to be, has led to calls for reform.
Texas Senator John Whitmire filed a bill that would require a hearing in open court before a witness bond is granted. Also, if one is granted, an independent attorney would have to be appointed to watch over the person. “This lady was stuck in the Harris County jail, lost in the shuffle and had no legal representation to go back to court and point out how difficult her circumstances were,” Whitmire said.
As The Free Thought Project has routinely reported, the poor, the homeless, the mentally ill, and minorities are often the victims of an out of control, illogical, and unfair justice system. We’ve reported to you how a homeless man was beaten and sent to jail for a year, simply for not answering a police officer’s question. We routinely bring you stories of handicapped individuals being mistreated by the justice system.
Now, it seems, we have yet another case where a woman who’d been violently raped, was treated with the same level of care as her attacker, and for a month was locked behind bars with other hardened criminals. There’s no telling if Jenny will ever be able to get over her trauma. Jenny, if you’re out there, please get in touch with The Free Thought Project and let us know that you’re doing better. We hope you sue the hell out of their asses and never have to worry about where you’ll sleep again.