There is a tragic story in Texas where a 15-year-old girl was raped and her step grandmother murdered after a judge ordered her to be sent back to a home with a sex offender. The offender, Edward Clinton Lee, was once married to the guardian, the girl’s step-grandmother, Jean Slovacek, at a house in Caldwell, Texas. Retired state District Judge Terrill L. Flenniken is under fire for an order to send the girl back to the home. A lawsuit filed by The Texas Center for Defense of Life against Flenniken as well as three teachers — Bliss Bednar, Vance Skidmore and Bradley Vestal — and the Caldwell Independent School District for allegedly failing to report threats from the sex offender who professed in a plea bargain for a life sentence.
The victim’s mother, Angela Belcher, had tried to get her daughter out of the living arrangement months earlier when S.R.L. became pregnant at age 15 with her 15-year-old boyfriend. Flenniken refused after speaking with the girl in his chambers. According to an affidavit, the juvenile told the judge of the threats from Lee and how he had “asked S.R.L. to take off her clothes, even offering her $20 to strip down in front of him.” Also, “S.R.L. would move the dresser against the door, rearranging her room to keep Lee out and going so far as to sleep in her day clothes and not in pajamas so that Lee would not be able to see her change.” The affidavit also says that she complained that he would come into the bathroom to take pictures of her while showering. Nevertheless, he returned her to the home.
Lee later shot Slovacek-Storm and then assaulted and tied up the girl. She would escape during a standoff with the police. He was a registered sex offender so I am unsure of why the judge would continue the living arrangements for the girl. Even if she did not reveal the allegations against Lee, his status alone would seem to dictate a change, particularly since this was her step grandmother and not her biological mother or father.
There also are questions as to why the teachers did not report the abuse, which critics say were revealed to them, including in an essay about “the best or worst things that has ever happened in their life.”
The Assistant Principal Vance Skidmore and Principal Bradley Vestal did contact the adults about the paper. The lawsuit says that Lee and Slovacek-Storm “strongly admonished S.R.L. for ‘lying in her paper to get Eddie in trouble . . . S.R.L. was immediately driven to the school and forced to apologize to Bednar, Skidmore, and Vestal for ‘lying’ in her paper.”
The group bringing the lawsuit says that the girl she didn’t want to have an abortion but was being pressured to by her grandmother and Lee. The group originally represented the minor before Flenniken in the 21st District Court of Burleson County in opposing the abortion. They say that her biological grandfather was also pushing for the abortion.
We have not heard from the judge who deserves to be heard on such shocking allegations. If the girl did describe the sexual overtures and filming by Lee, there is no cognizable reason to send her back to the home. The lawsuit may reveal more answers as to the judge’s reasons for not ordering a change in domicile. We will continue to follow the case.