MIDLAND, Texas (KMID/KPEJ)- Five Midland Christian School administrators who were arrested in February and charged with Failure to Report with Intent to Conceal the alleged sexual assault of a student on school property have filed a federal lawsuit against the City of Midland, the Midland Police Department, and MPD Detective Jennie Alonzo alleging that “law enforcement authorities who- in a remarkable abuse of power- arrested these educators as retaliation,” the lawsuit reads.
The “Midland Christian Five” as they are called in the lawsuit, said the defendants violated their civil rights- all five administrators, former Superintendent Jared Lee, former Athletic Director and head football coach Greg McClendon, former secondary principal Dana Ellis and former assistant secondary principal Matthew Counts, along with former head baseball coach Barry Russell were no-billed by a Grand Jury after members of the jury said they found no probable cause that a crime was committed.
Attorney Rusty Hardin of Rusty Hardin & Associates, LLP, the firm representing the five, said, “This was one of the most egregious cases of irresponsible police action I’ve seen in decades of practicing law. This detective personally decided that these educational professionals were guilty, despite a complete lack of credible evidence and impeccable reputations. She then embarked on a course of conduct designed to ruin their careers.”
The lawsuit states that the alleged sexual assault of a Freshman student was instead, “horseplay”, and that the reported “victim” denied that a sexual assault ever occurred. In court documents, the attorney said things were blown out of proportion in a “bizarre and unfortunate game of telephone”. It was another student’s father who ultimately heard the rumor and contacted the police.
A probable cause affidavit released after the arrest of the administrators stated that the baseball student was sexually assaulted, through his clothes, with a baseball bat following practice. But school administrators said, after speaking with the students involved, that the truth surrounding the incident was not as extreme as the rumors. Even still, school officials administered the “highest form of punishment short of expulsion” against the sophomore involved.
“What happened here is that Midland Police had tunnel vision. They heard a false, unreliable report from a parent based on schoolhouse gossip and went with it,” Hardin said.
MPD investigators stated that the staff at Midland Christian School failed to report the assault and later tried to conceal the facts- this after the school said it would not release documentation pertaining to its own investigation into the matter unless investigators returned with a warrant.
The law firm contends that the detective involved “created an overall false impression” in her sworn statements that led to the issue of the search warrant and subsequent arrest warrants. The lawsuit also states that the detective’s misrepresentation of facts led to an elevated charge, rather than a misdemeanor Failure to Report the charges were elevated to Felony with Intent to Conceal. The law firm stated in the documents that investigators failed to mention in her criminal complaint that the student involved underwent a SANE exam and that no physical trauma was found- in line with his statement that the incident wasn’t as extreme as the rumors initially indicated.
The lawsuit further alleges that the MPD detective leading the investigation denied the administrator’s requests to turn themselves in and instead orchestrated a “perp-walk” in front of the school in front of media and campus visitors.
We have reached out to the law firm for more information, you can read the full lawsuit here: