A new legal filing argues public statements made by Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson further bolsters a rape victim’s claims the county was ill-prepared to handle her particular case. The documents were filed Monday in federal court as part of an ongoing lawsuit against the county.
Sean Buckley represents "Jenny," a victim of rape who suffered a mental breakdown while testifying against her attacker. Channel 2 Investigates has reported, at a prosecutor's behest, a judge signed an order to have 'Jenny' placed in jail to ensure she would show up again to testify.
“Illustrate the county's liability in this case through some of District Attorney Anderson's statements,” Buckley said. “We believe that the law is clear and that they never had the right to put "Jenny" in the jail.”
Court papers speak directly to public statements Anderson made in July. One of those statements involves the county having a lack of resources to handle a case like 'Jenny's.'
“The idea that the county did not have resources is false, of course they did,” Buckley said.
Anderson has previously said her prosecutor tried to find a mental health care facility for “Jenny,” but overcrowding at the time made jail the only option. Channel 2 Investigates has reported when "Jenny" was put in jail some staff members were confused as to whether she was a victim or a suspect.
Court documents read Anderson stated “Jenny” did not “receive proper care in the Harris County jail,” and “the system broke down in the jail.”
“This wouldn't have been nearly as bad if the jail had done its job,' we think that's probably true, but it doesn't excuse the fact that she was put in the jail to begin with,” Buckley said.
In addition to her mental health needs, the DA's Office contended "Jenny" was homeless. Buckley says "Jenny" was not homeless at the time she testified, nor was she a resident of Harris County. That last part is something Buckley said is crucial to putting someone in jail on a so-called "witness bond."
“The DA's Office investigators were the ones who drove to another county to pick her up at her apartment,” Buckley said.
However, Buckley did point out he does not believe Anderson was fully appraised of what was happening to “Jenny” at the time she was placed in jail.
“I'm satisfied that Devon Anderson probably didn't know that this was going on when it happened, my beef with her since then is her public justifications for it and the explanations which I disagree with,” Buckley said.
The general litigation team for the DA's Office could not be reached for comment on Monday evening. An official with the Harris County Attorney's Office told KPRC the office had not had a chance to thoroughly examine the new filing and therefore could not comment at this time.