Sheriff Hickman removed from lawsuit filed by rape victim
HOUSTON – The rape victim who was put in jail after having a mental breakdown on the witness stand is no longer suing Sheriff Ron Hickman.
"We have dismissed Sheriff Hickman from the lawsuit, since it has become clear that we can resolve the same issues through our lawsuit against Harris County,” said the attorney for a woman named Jenny.
Jenny is still suing Harris County in general, a guard who she got into an altercation with and a prosecutor who got a judge to sign an order of attachment that required she be put in jail.
Jenny spent 27 days in the Harris County Jail, where she was assaulted by another inmate, fought with a guard and was believed by some staff who misread jail records to be an accused rapist instead of a victim.
Jenny’s attorney, Sean Buckley, filed an amended complaint in federal court Thursday.
"The facts of this lawsuit remain the same, but we have amended it to cast a wider net over the conduct of the defendants, particularly as that conduct violated Jane Doe's rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act,” Buckley told Channel 2 investigative reporter Jace Larson. "The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities.
We believe that Harris County and the other defendants in this lawsuit actually treated (Jenny) worse, not better, because she has a mental health disability.”
Channel 2 exposed the situation of "Jenny" and another rape victim who were held in jail so prosecutors could make sure they testified against the men accused of raping them.
Hickman has previously said that Jenny should not have been jailed in the general population and that when he learned of her situation, he worked to get a judge to release her.
Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson has defended her office's decision but has pledged to work with community groups in the future to find other alternatives.
State Sens. Joan Huffman, R-Houston, and John Whitmire, D-Houston, have promised to offer bills that will require an attorney to be appointed any time a crime witness is held in jail solely so the witness will testify.
Jenny returned to testify and helped prosecutors put the man who raped her behind bars forever. She was released days later.
If you have a tip about this story or another story idea for investigative reporter Larson, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 832-493-3951.