Prosecutor for jailed rape victim speaks out

- A campaign video in the Harris County District Attorney’s race continues to spark controversy. Now, a new voice speaks out in defense of incumbent Devon Anderson.

The ad features the mother of a mentally ill woman who was held on a witness bond during her trial against her rapist. While in custody, the daughter was misplaced in the jail’s general population, where she was beaten and not provided mental health care. In an ad for District Attorney candidate Kim Ogg, the mother of the victim criticizes DA Devon Anderson for the handling of her daughter.

The Assistant District Attorney who prosecuted the case is currently being sued by the mother. On Thursday, he spoke out against what the ad, saying the accusation that the DA’s office places victims in jail rather than compassionate care is misleading.

“I did everything I could for this girl,” said Assistant District Attorney Nicholas Socias in a press conference Thursday afternoon, “and I did everything I could to make sure no one else would have to go in a hospital, get a rape kit, or end up dead in the street from this man.”

Socias went into detail, retelling the victim’s journey and his involvement during her trial.

Keith Hendricks had a long history of rape cases involving homeless women with mental health issues. His attacks had grown increasingly violent. Socias, who was prosecuting Hendricks’s latest case, was concerned he’d strike again. The victim in question, known only as Jenny, was key witness in a 2015 case that could allow Socias to put Hendricks away for life.

Jenny lived out of the area, but agreed to testify. Socias says Jenny was staying with her mother prior to trial. The evening before the trial, he receives a concerning phone call from Jenny.

“A few hours after she is dropped off [with her mother,] Jenny calls me repeatedly on my cell phone. The first call I get is panicked. She is saying ‘I need your help, I’m on the street, I got kicked out, you need to help me,’” recounts Socias. He says Jenny’s mother kicked her daughter out over an argument about cigarettes. The mother has cancer, he explains, and says the smoking was a health issue.

Socias says he placed Jenny in a nearby hotel for the night. The next day, Jenny had a mental health breakdown on the witness stand and then acted erratic outside.

“She is running into the street, and there’s traffic coming, and we are having to stop traffic to not hit her. It was, as far as I could tell, a suicide attempt,” said Socias. “On top of that, she made it clear to everyone she either took pills or was about to take pills.”

An emergency detention order and material witness bond was issued. The former sent Jenny into care at St. Joseph’s Hospital. The later placed her under custody to ensure she would return to testify when her trial resumed.

“Not only had she expressed that she would not return, the judge before breaking had ordered her to return at a certain time. She, well beyond that point, had not come back,” explained Socias as to why Jenny was considered a flight risk by the judge.

Jenny was only able to stay in the hospital for a certain period, after which her order instructed that she be placed in a Harris County mental health facility. On October 26th, Socias says he received an email from Jenny’s mother saying that had not happened.  Jenny had been misplaced in the jail’s general population - the same population as her attacker.

"I called everyone that would answer the phone in jail, I sent every email I could explaining who Jenny was, why she was there, what her problems were, and the monitoring she needed,” said Socias, who adds he attempted to have her relocated to outside facilities.

When Socias reached out to Jenny’s mother, she again said she could not take custody of her daughter.

When it comes to the campaign ad, Socias feels the mother does not properly represent the efforts taken by the District Attorney’s office to properly care for Jenny while also honoring the judge’s bond to ensure her attacker see justice.

As to Devon Anderson’s role in the handling of this victim, Socias says he never told Anderson about the situation at the time it occurred. When the handling of Jenny went public with reports of her being attacked while in jail, Devon Anderson defended Socias’ choice to place the victim under bond.

When asked where things went wrong in the handling of this victim, Socias said, “From the jail to the facilities that we have, it's not unfortunately equipped to deal with this situation."

Anderson echoed that sentiment in a Facebook video Wednesday, saying, “the system broke down and Jenny was not placed in the mental health unit and did not receive the care in jail that the prosecutor repeatedly requested.”

FOX 26 reached out to the Harris County Sheriff’s Office for comment. As of this post, we had not received a statement.

She later defends Socias again, saying, "these decisions must always be made in the interest of justice and public safety, and that was the case in this instance, despite the misleading information being spread by Kim Ogg and George Soros"

FOX26 reached out to the Harris County Sheriff’s Office for comment. As of this post, we had not received a statement.

Anderson again defends her office’s actions, saying in her Wednesday Facebook post, “these decisions must always be made in the interest of justice and public safety, and that was the case in this instance, despite the misleading information being spread by Kim Ogg and George Soros."

Yes, liberal political activist George Soros has provided significant funding for Ogg’s campaign. No, Soros does not reside or work in Harris County.

Meanwhile, the decision to highlight a few of Anderson's high profile case mishaps has proven fruitful for Ogg, who's seeing healthy poll numbers. Ogg's campaign contends the case is still a black eye for Anderson.

"[Anderson] knew [Jenny] was beaten up in jail in January. What steps has the District Attorney's office take since then to improve the system," asks Ogg campaign spokesman Wayne Dolcefino after attending Socias’ press conference Thursday.

What do you think? Does Socias’ account impact your view of the Jenny case? Share your thoughts at facebook.com/kaitlinmonte or by tweeting @kaitlinmonte.
 

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