Jailed rape victim suffers setback in recovery

By Jace Larson - Investigative Reporter, Debbie Strauss - Special Projects Producer

HOUSTON - The Harris County prosecutor who got a judge's order for throwing a rape victim in jail wants a lawsuit against him thrown out.

An attorney for Nicolas Socias said Socias has immunity from lawsuits related to his cases.

Channel 2 Investigates exposed how the victim, named Jenny, was jailed after having a mental breakdown while testifying against her attacker. Sadly, we’ve learned Jenny has suffered a setback in her recovery.

Meantime, Channel 2 Investigates is also revealing new training for prosecutors to make sure what happened to Jenny doesn't happen again.

If you need help with mental illness, contact the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Greater Houston: 713-970-4419.

The story about Jenny is so bizarre it is hard to believe.

She was thrown in jail after suffering a mental breakdown while testifying at her rapist's trial.

"It's been crazy," said Jenny's mom.

Jenny's mom said since Channel 2 first exposed what happened to Jenny, the response has been overwhelming. She added, "I'm glad it's getting the attention it deserves."

After Jenny's breakdown, she was hospitalized, but prosecutors got a judge to order her held in jail -- over Christmas -- so she would return to testify.

In jail, Jenny was beaten up, punched by a guard and jail staff were confused -- thinking she was a rapist and not a victim.

"I want to so much just erase what happened to her in the past two years and wish it never happened and give her all the love and support that she needs," said Jenny's mom.

"She's not doing well," said Sean Buckley, Jenny's civil attorney.

Buckley said Jenny has not been the same since her ordeal. She's back in jail after a fight with her husband.

"We are working to get her into a care facility where she will have structure, where she will have emotional support and therapy," Buckley said.

And Buckley's suing the county, a prosecutor and a jail guard.

He wants money for Jenny...and wants the county to change its ways.

Two lawmakers have proposed bills requiring attorneys represent crime victims held in jail to testify. Jenny was never appointed one.

And the National Alliance on Mental Illness is helping better prepare assistant DAs.

Unique training is putting prosecutors face to face with people battling mental health issues.

"This class will tell them what it is like to be arrested with a mental illness," said Glenn Urback, director of NAMI Great Houston. He added, "What it is like to be in a psychiatric hospital with a mental illness."

Urback said Jenny's situation shined a spotlight on the lack of mental health resources.

"I promise to viewers out there, there is a coordinated effort between NAMI and the local governments and other providers at the state level to fix this system," Urback said.

Jenny's mom takes some comfort in that, but wants Jenny to find affordable long-term treatment.

"She says, 'Mom, I do need help and I understand that and I'm open to getting that," said Jenny's mom. She added, "I'm hoping that with the treatment she needs, we can get her on the right track and she has a great future and she becomes what she should have been all along and this has been a bad dream."

One in four people suffer from mental illness during their lives.

To register for a support group or learn about advocacy, call the Houston chapter of NAMI at 713-970-4419.

Or check out namigreaterhouston.org.

2016 Click2Houston/KPRC2