Friday, May 20, 2011

"An Absolute Honest-to-God Texas Frame-up"

People have written me on occasion asking if I were familiar with the "Mineola Swingers Club" case, and while I was, I can say I didn't know much about it. As this article in Texas Monthly demonstrates, those who did know the facts decided that the facts were not good enough, and that the only "satisfactory" outcome would be to frame the defendants. And that is what the authorities did.

The facts are fairly well-known. A group of adults supposedly had young children engage in sex behavior on stage at a "swingers club" in Mineola, Texas. The children alleged a number of wild things, but at the beginning the authorities in Woods County could see through it, but, as often happens, someone else got involved, the "child protective" workers did their guilt-assuming, suggestive interviews, and the rest was history. Innocent people went to jail.

Writes Michael Hall:
To recap, from 2005 to 2008, four Tyler children--three siblings and their aunt—all aged 4 through 7, made allegations that in 2004 seven adults, including their parents, had forced them to attend a sex kindergarten in a trailer park, where they learned to play sex games, and then took them to a swingers club in nearby Mineola, where they performed sex acts on stage in front of crowds of as many as 30 adults, who videotaped the shows. The stories told by the kids were wildly inconsistent and sometimes outright bizarre: adults casting spells, wearing witch outfits, and sacrificing chickens; one child said she had flown around on a broomstick. Every single child initially denied to social workers knowing anything about a sex kindergarten or club; it was only after multiple interviews that they started making outrageous allegations. But there was nothing to back them up: no adult witnesses and no physical evidence—no DNA, no fingerprints, not even any videotapes.

In fact, Wood County, where Mineola is located, did its own investigation, back in 2005, when just one child was talking about a sex club. Investigators (including an FBI agent), found absolutely no evidence to back up her accusations.
Unfortunately, the truth was not enough:
This didn’t stop the criminal justice machinery of Smith County. A Texas Ranger got involved and before long he was helping interview the other kids. In 2007 arrests were made; the public was outraged that a sex kindergarten and a sex club would operate under their noses. Three of the adults went to trial in 2008 and their juries, made of good country people who want nothing more than to protect their children, found them guilty in a matter of minutes. A fourth defendant was found guilty last summer.
If you wish to know why I have no hope at all that authorities will want to do what is right, the following pretty much explains the current state of "law" in this country:
I find it unfathomable that so many good people could allow and encourage these prosecutions to go forward. What happened to the lawyerly skepticism of Judge Jack Skeen and DA Bingham and the other men and women in his office?

*Why didn’t they look closer at the kids’ weird, implausible stories?

*Why didn’t they look closer at the foster mother of three of them, a woman named Margie Cantrell who moved to Mineola from California in 2004 and who has a history of manipulating her foster kids? (One of her California kids characterized her to me as “the puppet master” and said, “She brainwashes the kids to believe the stories she makes up.”)

*Why didn’t they give serious credence to the fact that not one of the seven defendants would testify against the others in exchange for a lesser sentence?

If they had done just one of these three, much less all of them, they would have realized the obvious: Nothing happened. There was no crime. There was no sex kindergarten and there were no child-sex shows at a swinger’s club. Ultimately, I can’t help but believe that Bingham knows this. Let’s put it this way: If he really believed these people put on live sex shows with children, would he really be setting them free now?

I always figured the cavalry would ride in and save the day for them. First I thought it would be the office of the Attorney General, which, in the summer of 2009 sent two lawyers to help investigate the case after Bingham tried to recuse his office from further prosecutions. But the AG’s office didn’t do anything. Then in the spring of 2010 two of the defendants had their verdicts thrown out by the 14th Court of Appeals in Houston—a process which saw the DA in neighboring Wood County file an extraordinary amicus brief in which he officially called into question everything the Smith County DA had done. “[N]o evidence was found to corroborate the stories told by the children,” he wrote.

But that was it. No cooler or wiser heads stepped in to actually free these people. In fact, those two defendants whose cases were overturned were going to be folded in with the remaining defendants (two of whom are grandparents of two of the children) into one mass trial in June. It is these six who pled guilty.
No matter how many times these kinds of cases are exposed, no matter how much research is published on problems that we find when "child protective" workers interview young children, no matter how many times that the "evidence" contradicts the Laws of Time and Space, the authorities will bring charges and compliant juries will vote guilty. Why does it happen?

It happens because people in authority are not held accountable for their actions. Protected by legal immunity and the mainstream news media, which needs these people as sources for their stories (no matter how fantastic those stories might be), the bad actors are free to lie, suborn perjury, and conspire with judges to rig trials. Protected by politicians and the U.S. Supreme Court, police, prosecutors, and "child protective" workers will pull off this scam time and again -- because they can do it.

Hall ends with this depressing thought:
Why would they do this if they aren’t guilty? Well, innocent people plead guilty all the time. They confess to crimes they didn’t commit (about a quarter of the DNA exonerations involve some form of false confession) and they plead guilty to crimes they didn’t commit. They especially do it when they are certain they will be found guilty, no matter what they do or how good their attorneys are. In these cases we’ve already seen four different juries vote guilty—in the time it takes to watch a movie. These defendants know the realities. They can go to prison for life—or they can go home. They don’t have a whole lot to lose by pleading guilty. Their lives have already been ruined—they’ll always be known for these allegations anyway.

So, Patrick “Booger Red“ Kelly told his mother that he was taking the plea. “I don’t like it at all,” she told me. “But he’s screwed here. Despite all anybody can do, he’s never going to be found ‘not guilty’ in Tyler. He’s at the end of his rope. He told me, ‘Mama, I’m tired. I’m in here for something I haven’t done. I want to go home.’”

I usually believe in the ultimate good will of good people; justice will triumph. Of course, that only happens if people actually do something about injustice. In this case decent people turned away from doing anything about a terrible wrong. They’ve got a word for that, and the word is “evil.”

In Smith County, the bad guys won.
In Catoosa County a year ago, the "bad guys" did not win when jurors saw through the lies of the authorities and acquitted Tonya Craft. But they still are on the job, still trying to frame innocent people, still lying, still suborning perjury, still fabricating "evidence." As long as people like this are in positions of power and authority, the "bad guys" will be winning.


Doc Ellis 124 said...

Greetings Dr Anderson-


Thank you for writing this

Doc Ellis 124

Asha said...

I'm wondering is Tonya Craft the only person who beat a csc charge? Child protective service is a joke, my friends sister was just arrested for child abuse, child protective services got her foster child to say that she put her in the oven for over an hour and a half. If she was in the oven for 5 minutes she would be dead, so just imagine over an hour. The stupid judge found grounds to arrest her from that, give me a break.

Anonymous said...

My son was falsely accused in WA state shortly after the Wenatchee Witch hunt scandal broke.

Rather than being cautious or contrite, the court system was defensively malevolent and evil. "We got away with it, so shuddup. Or I'll hurt you." was the prevailing attitude.

That was 12 years ago, and we are still trying to get out son free from their claws. He was horrifically punished because I wouldn't keep quiet.

For twoelved years...almost 13 now, actually, I have waited for "someday" to come, that I could name names and show proof...

...and still waiting...

Anonymous said...

God help us all!

Anonymous said...

Tonya Craft did the right thing-she found an expert attorney. I know it isn't easy for most folks to do same but there are legal clinics in and near most large cities as well as Law School legal clinics.

I have known a few to escape the clutches of CPS fed investigations; some with private counsel,others with law clinics,and even a few with public defenders, but yes, to my personal knowledge, most people beset by false claims of child abuse do not fare well.

Reader from NYC

LookoutSpy said...

The court system is about creating cash flow for attorneys, and through the attorneys, "campaign contributions.

As long as the judiciary is a political "elected" office, this will never end. Judges have ZERO accountability, and lawyers only a little bit more than zero.

Anonymous said...

I do see your point with the "cash cow" theory but I still have hope that with able litigators, that the truth will come out and that justice will be served.

From what I have read of these "Mineola Trials", a public servant, an Officier of the Court, a DA from neighboring Wood County actually filed an Amicus Brief in support of the Appeal sought by two of the defendants. This speaks volumes.

Reader from NYC

Anonymous said...

I just can't get these Mineola Swinger Club trials out of my mind and as such I have done more research. This is a travesty. The worst nightmare for all the innocents invloved, the defendants and their families and the children.

What the hell is wrong with Texas? Sorry, stupid question.

I know why the defendants took a plea, anyone involved in law would understand same. I just hope that the foster parents involved in this debacle and their ilk including the judge and the prosecutors will some day be brought to justice. All of this is in my opinion only.
Reader from NYC

Yancey Ward said...

People worship at the feet of Authority. My guess is that fewer than one person in fifty has the ability to question Authority in any meaningful way. Most of those fifty comfort themselves with the thought that they chose that Authority to rule over them, and put aside all doubt in their actions.

Anonymous said...

Yancy, I see what you mean as I had read some of the "viewer" comments on the recent news articles concerning the Swinger Club pleas.

These folks just don't seem to get it that tomorrow, they might be the ones on trial.
Reader from NYC

Asha said...

Does anyone know why coercion or bribery is a part of first degree criminal sexual conduct.

That is about one of the dumbest laws I have ever heard of.

Anonymous said...

Asha, what is your reference for this question?
Reader from NYC

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