A Texas woman who was the victim of rape and who was placed in jail after having a mental breakdown while testifying against her assailant is now suing Harris County and its sheriff, among others.
The woman, named Jenny, is in her 20s and was the star witness in the rape trial of Keith Hendricks (pictured). Hendricks was ultimately given two life sentences for raping multiple women, according to KRPC.
Jenny was to give her testimony on Dec. 8, 2015. However, she has bipolar disorder and was unable to finish her testimony, with transcripts showing she broke down and ran from the court saying she would never go back.
Sean Buckley, Jenny's attorney, said his client was placed in jail without due process and was given a black eye by another inmate while in jail for nearly a month. She was also reportedly punched by a jail guard after attacking him.
She was finally released from jail when she testified against Hendricks on Jan. 14, 2016.
"This young lady should never have been put in the Harris County jail," Buckley said. "That is not an environment for a rape victim."
Jenny was apparently jailed through a Texas legal mechanism called an attachment order, which can be used to hold witnesses without bail if the witness is unlikely to show up for a trial.
KPRC analyst Brian Wice, and other attorneys the TV channel asked, said they had never heard of an attachment order being used to hold a rape victim.
"It's astounding to me that could have happened. At the end of the day she received less due process, less protection than the rapist did."
Jenny was placed in general population with other inmates suspected of committing crimes, where records apparently show some jail personnel believed Jenny to be a suspect of sexual assault rather than a victim.
In one instance, staff notes detail that Jenny repeatedly tried to tell staff she was the victim, but records continued to reflect the jailers disbelief in her by continuing to say, “Arrested for aggravated sexual assault.”
Buckley has filed a lawsuit against Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman, the guard who reportedly punched Jenny, named as Taylor Adams, and a prosecutor who requested she be put in jail.
A representative for District Attorney Devon Anderson said on July 19:
Because the DA’s Office has been notified that a lawsuit is imminent, we cannot go into details about this case. However, witness bonds are a common tool used by prosecutors and defense attorneys when the lawyer has reason to believe that the witness will be unavailable or make him or herself unavailable for trial. A judge must approve a witness bond. In this case the judge and family agreed with the decision to obtain a witness bond.