HOUSTON – For a young woman by the name of "Jenny," an Odyssey through our criminal justice system began in August 2014. At the time, "Jenny" was homeless and struggling with severe mental illness. She was raped by Keith Hendricks, a man prosecutors called a serial predator.
In the months that followed, Hendricks was arrested and the case went to trial. "Jenny's" testimony was crucial to the prosecution's case. She had a mental breakdown on the witness stand, and the decision that followed created a shock wave felt all the way to the state Capitol.
"At the end of the day, she received less due process, less protection than the rapist did," KPRC legal analyst Brian Wice said in July 2016.
"Jenny" was initially hospitalized, but the Harris County district attorney needed to make sure she came back to court to complete her testimony. After being released from the hospital, prosecutors had "Jenny" put in jail on something called a "witness bond."
Court records show "Jenny" was in the jail's general population for 27 days. Channel 2 Investigates obtained records showing some members of the jail staff were confused as to whether "Jenny" was a victim or a suspect. Medical staff wrote "Jenny" was "arrested for aggravated sexual assault," and "didn't know why she has been charged." In jail, "Jenny" got into fights with another inmate and guard.
"Jenny" completed her testimony and was eventually released. Hendricks was convicted and sentenced to life in prison, but her attorney argued the damage to "Jenny" was done. "Jenny" is suing Harris County.
"This young lady should never have been put in the Harris County Jail. This is not an environment for a rape victim," attorney Sean Buckley said in July 2016.
At first, then District Attorney Devon Anderson declined to talk on camera. Following KPRC 2's initial report, Anderson released her own video defending the decision.