Thursday, February 16, 2006
Molestation allegations rock small Texas town
We spent time recently in the small east Texas town of Wills Point, where several people have come forward to make some very unpleasant allegations about one of the town's leaders.

We talked to two men who told us Mike Jones, a member of the city council for the past 12 years, molested them when they were young teenagers. One of those alleged victims confronted Jones at a city council meeting this week. It got so raucous that the accuser was arrested by police and threatened with a taser gun.

Jones has filed a slander lawsuit against the man who confronted him at the city council meeting, and tells us the allegations are all untrue. He says he's being picked on because he's a successful politician and businessman.

We also talked with firemen who accuse Jones of ogling them while they took showers in the firehouse. Jones also denies these allegations.

This is a tough story to cover because of the nature of the allegations and the strong denials of the accused. Who's telling the truth? Who isn't? The reputation of more than one person is at stake.

Regardless of the truth of the allegations, there is little chance this will wind up in a criminal court. The district attorney says the statute of limitations has expired.
Posted By Gary Tuchman, CNN Correspondent: 6:52 PM ET
  20 Comments
Gary,

This is a very intriguing story and I hope the show will be good. Foremost is that hopefully the truth will come out and no one will be subject to predetermined guilt.

With that said I find two events in Texas interesting. It appears that accidental shooting in Texas is legal and child molestation still has a statute of limitations. I find it odd in a state whose name is derived from tejas or friendly does not seem to friendly these days.

I hope the good people of Texas at least seek to eliminate the statute of limitations on child molestation.

Tom
Posted By Anonymous Tom Kennedy, Lake Villa, IL : 7:34 PM ET
Molestation victims tend to keep it all inside unless they have to. I am 40 years old, and my twim brother was probably molested as a 10-12 year old. I say, probably, because he's never said...just sisterly intuition about a few comments he had made as a 12 year old, and the fear that rose in me like a fist, when the words were said.

That said, I don't know alot about molesters or molestations except what I've learned about it by paying attention to the media, and doubtlessly the same hold for most Americans. One thing I have learned is that alot of pedophiles , like the one I think molested my brother, hold trusted public positions that allow them to be around children with no other adult present. Another thing I know for sure is this: if I had been molested a long time ago, and if I found out if the guy was still swaggering around like one of the 12 disiples, I'd probably have a screaming fit, too, preferably in front of the voters who voted the guy in! I sure do hope your story gets to the truth, one way or the other.
Posted By Anonymous Lara, Wheeling, WV : 7:45 PM ET
There shouldn't be a statute of limitation when it comes to sexual crimes--the emotional effects run much longer than the statute of limitations!
Posted By Anonymous Jared, Cambridge, MA : 8:02 PM ET
Without casting judgment (particularly because the firemen's claims that they were ogled in the shower sound particularly frivolous), California has a delayed discovery statute for victims of child abuse which allows claims to be made up to 8 years after the victim reaches the age of majority (typically age 26) or 3 years after the psychological injury occurred. The discovery "delay" provision acknowledges that due to repressed memories, the victim may not immediately remember the crime. Extending the limitations period in these cases may impact the fairness of the defendant's trial, because the passage of time will have a deleterious effect on witnesses, memories, evidence and credibility. However, it recognizes that the severe trauma, embarassment and confusion that victims of childhood sex crimes experience may render them mentally unable to file a claim within the normal time limits. More states should adopt similar statutes. To do otherwise allows a sex abuser to benefit directly from the severity of the harm he inflicted. They target a child for the abuse due to the minor's unique vulnerability and inability to fight back. These same factors keep the children quiet long after the abuse has stopped. A criminal shouldn't escape punishment simply because he chose his victim so wisely. There's no statute of limitations for murder. Child molestation can destroy a person's life forever. Why should they have only a few years to bring their tormentor to justice?
Posted By Anonymous Michele Jackson, Porter Ranch, CA : 8:11 PM ET
What can you say to something like this? If it is true then there shouldn't be any reason why the case shouldn't go forward. People come forward as adults because they are scared and unsure as children. We as a society should not expect that a young boy is going to come forward directly after being molested by a powerful official. We are we thinking?
Posted By Anonymous Theresa Costello, Immaculata, PA : 8:13 PM ET
well the only way to uncover the truth is well to uncover. most people do not cry wolf just because they feel like it. yes there are people who do just to get a money settlement which is a shame for those who have been victimized. Many boys very rarely step forward when they have molested it not usual untill they become adults do they feel inpowered to say what has happened to them
Posted By Anonymous joslyn, federal way, washington : 8:22 PM ET
So, basically, we just have an "incident" and an accusation, but no facts whatsoever. What's the background? Who are the other accusers? How credible are they? Is there a history of problems between this councilman and the Fire Department? Has his personal or professional conduct been questioned before? Is this personal or political? How is anyone supposed to form an opinion? The story doesn't contain enough information to even speculate. And since he won't be charged with anyting, it's all a moot point. Why would the world care about this?
Posted By Anonymous Jack, Madisonville, Texas : 9:12 PM ET
Who cares? Since when is "oggling" somebody a crime? I can not believe grown men would cry over something so silly.
Posted By Anonymous ken mcwilliams, myrtle beach, SC : 9:47 PM ET
This is so hard to deal with. Such an accusation can follow an innocent person to the grave. On the other hand, such a molest can ruin the lives of the molested far beyond any statute of limitations. I hope the press can leave this alone if the proper authorities are pursuing things. If the authorities are powerless in this case and there are facts to support the man's guilt, I hope the injured parties sue him and take it to the supreme court. It has been done in similar cases and the laws got changed.
Posted By Anonymous Brent Kincaid, Lihue, Hawaii. : 10:00 PM ET
I used to live in Wills Point and can tell this is a great small town just outside of Dallas by about 45 miles. This could be anywhere USA and should not refect poorly on the good people of Wills Point, Texas. Trust me, the story has "politics" written all over it. We have good laws in Texas and good people who enforce them in a fair and just manner. Trial by press should never be allowed.
Posted By Anonymous Steve, Dallas, Texas : 10:42 PM ET
I hope this is not the end of investigating small town allegations of sexual abuse. I also hope this raises some attention to the statute of limitations to law makers. Even when the abuse is recent and reported the results, I am sad to say, are the same. Kudos to the awareness raised tonight even if it was brief.
Posted By Anonymous Emily, Columbia, TN : 11:34 PM ET
There is no statute of limitations on murder, but there is one on sex crimes against a child. When a child is molested, part of them dies--their innocence. That, plus the heinousness of such a crime should be enough to eliminate a statute of limitations. Someone questioned why we would care about this story, and asked if the accused's personal or professional conduct had been questioned before. Does that matter? That has no bearing on whether or not he could have committed this crime. Guilty or not, what matters is that these allegations are investigated thoroughly before being dismissed as unworthy. What matters is that the accuser is accorded the same amount of respect the accused is receiving now--anything less will continue to promote the silence of molestation victims, and allow very dangerous people to live amongst us and our children.
Posted By Anonymous Julia Ransom, Columbia, MO : 11:41 PM ET
I am a citizen of Wills Point, and I can not belive that such a case is making national headlines. If such allegations had been brought upon a regular "average joe" who held no political position, the story would not be getting this undue national attention. I am very disapointed that news stations in Dallas, Texas as well as CNN continue to agitate this situation that really needs to be settled away from television cameras.
Posted By Anonymous Daniel Phillips, Wills Point, Texas : 11:59 PM ET
Anyone who has ever lived in a small town knows how the behind the scenes politics work. Keep your eyes open, and your mouth shut. Fear is a great motivator for silence. I hope the laws are changed as to no limit of years to prosecute offenders. The victims suffer forever. It may just take them more time to try and get justice.
Posted By Anonymous Bobbie, Byesville, Ohio : 12:05 AM ET
I think this is an example of how inadequte our legal system is. Certain laws have no statue of limitations. Yet, because of fear, or inability to deal with such tragedies, they were too late. That is insane and unfair. We are basically telling them that if they dont meet a deadline that they are no longer considered victims or important. I am certainly outraged at how much "discretion" our legal system has. I am very sorry to the victims and advise you to contact public officials continuously until we can get a better justice system. But even that doesnt work all the time. When it comes to politics, its not truly about right and wrong, its who pays for what, and how do they feel. Our legal systems has many flaws. This is obviously one of them
Posted By Anonymous Tara , Lincoln NE : 12:15 AM ET
We seem to have gone crazy in this country in the way we did during Salem and McCarthy, only now it's "sexcrime." Soon newspapers and commentators across the country will receive an article entitled "Scales Unbalanced: an offender speaks out." Watch for it! Learn how ignorant our society has become!
Posted By Anonymous John P. Stockman Salem, MA : 12:21 AM ET
There is a statute of limitations on child molestation/rape cases across the country. An earlier comment from California indicated that at the time of legal adulthood the opportunity still exists to bring charges for a set number of years. This is insufficent.
Being molested as a child or adolescent has a profound affect on all facets of development and it is the uncommon person who is able to have a "normal" life after suffering such abuses. These are the innocent whose childhoods are robbed from them by no fault of their own. It is our responsibility as a society to protect them and ensure that justice serves those who cannot seek vindication without assitance.
Young men who are molested have even greater challanges than women as there is enormous stigma attached to their coming forward with such a claim.
Whether or not the claims of these particular men are true, I am glad that a story such as this is being brought to light as it is a subject that warrents our careful attention.
Our children are our most precious resource - they are our future.

If you have been affected by this story, please write or call your local legislator and rally to have these laws changed. It is ridiculous that such offenses are not prosecutable after a set time period and these archaic laws need to be revised.
Posted By Anonymous Elizabeth, Bethany OK : 1:23 AM ET
I was sexually abused by a close family friend when I was a young boy living in a small town in PA. The guilt I carried as a boy was ridiculous. I've been through some therapy but it'll never right the wrong that occured when I was an innocent child. The statute of limitations MUST be removed.
Posted By Anonymous David H. San Diego, CA : 1:24 AM ET
This is not a surprise to anyone who has lived in East Texas. It's a different world.

Nevertheless, Tom Kennedy's cheap shots are out to lunch:

"...two events in Texas interesting. It appears that accidental shooting in Texas is legal..."

Accidental shooting is legal in virtually any state of the union. As it should be. Texas is no diferent. But what does this have to do with events in East Texas?

"...and child molestation still has a statute of limitations."

Most crimes in any state -- including Illinois -- have a statute of limitations. So what's the big deal about Texas?
Posted By Anonymous Larry Baden, St. Louis, MO : 6:33 AM ET
It's just unfortunate that in a town where everyone seems to know each other things like this continue to put them up against one another, destryoing the very sense of community that these people once enjoyed.
Posted By Anonymous Matt, Springfield Mass. : 7:53 AM ET
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