• October 19, 2019

Trial dates set in Voss case - Odessa American: ECISD

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Trial dates set in Voss case

Attorneys say others knew of alleged abuse and didn’t report

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Posted: Thursday, August 15, 2019 2:53 pm

New information was revealed in a motion to quash filed by her attorney. The motion, which was eventually denied by the judge, details that that two other ECISD employees knew of the indecency with a child incident at least a day before Voss did but neither of those employees were charged with a crime.

Asked why the two other teachers weren’t charged, County Attorney Dusty Gallivan said he couldn’t comment on a pending case. Mike Atkins, the attorney for ECISD, said in an email that he didn’t know why the two other teachers weren’t charged.

Green said nothing happened to those two teachers. He added that he asked the county attorney why he didn’t file on the two teachers and he said, “I could have if I wanted to.”

A compromise and settlement agreement was reached last month between ECISD and Voss’ Texas State Teachers Association attorney, but it was contingent on the county attorney dismissing the charges against her “with prejudice.” It had her retiring effecting Jan. 31, 2020.

John Green, one of Voss’ attorneys, said of the settlement with the district, “It goes away.”

If she’s found guilty, Voss could be sentenced to up to a year in jail and a fine, Green said.

If she’s found not guilty, “It’s over,” Green said.

“She enjoys teaching and wants to continue teaching,” he said. “If she loses, she won’t be able to teach. It will end her teaching career.”

“The law is the teacher that receives the complaint is supposed to report it. The first teacher did not report it. Another teacher was notified before Ms. Voss. She wasn’t there that day, so she was the third person to know,” Green said.

Voss said previously that she followed district policy and training.

According to the policy, any district employee who suspects or receives notice that a student or group of students has or may have experienced prohibited conduct shall immediately notify the appropriate district official. For this instance, Voss notified the Title IX coordinator.

Charged with a Class A misdemeanor of failure to report in violation of a section under the Texas Family Code, Voss was booked into the Ector County Detention Center Feb. 26 and released that day on a $1,000 surety bond. A Class A misdemeanor is punishable by up to a year in the county jail and up to a $4,000 fine, or both.

According to an affidavit, Voss was required to report the alleged indecency with a child allegation to Texas Child Protective Services or law enforcement within 48 hours. The affidavit said Voss failed to report the case during that time after she became aware of the allegations.

A pretrial hearing was set for Sept. 10 and a special setting for a trial was set for Oct. 14. Gallivan said he anticipated the trial would take three days.

During a status conference Thursday, Hendricks-Green denied the motion to quash filed by Voss’ attorneys John Green and Michael McLeaish.

Gallivan said an offer was made to Voss, but Green said and Voss acknowledged that she intended to reject it.

Gallivan said in a text message that the plea agreement is not public record since it was never agreed to.

A copy of the agreement obtained by the OA shows that it included a clause that Voss could not discuss the agreement with the media and that Voss must abide by the July 25 agreement with ECISD and that she agreed that there is sufficient evidence for the state to proceed to trial.

Green said Voss would not agree that there was sufficient evidence or to not talk to the media and rejected the deal. Green also said he and attorney Michael McLeaish are representing Voss pro bono. Green said both he and McLeaish don’t like to see people “done wrong” and that this case wasn’t right.

If the motion to quash had been granted, Gallivan wrote, it would require the state to refile the case. The motion alleges that there “is some defect in the charging document.”

The motion to quash basically says the charging document wasn’t specific enough.

The arguments in the motion say ECISD police arrested a 10-year-old child at Travis Elementary School. The child was taken to the ECISD police station and charged with indecency to a minor.

The motion said the report shows that the boy was in the gym in PE class with the teacher and other children present. There was a 12-inch pencil/pen on the steps where students were sitting.

The male student took the pencil and touched a girl “in her private area over the clothes. He allegedly touched two other girls in their private area. One girl touches him with a pencil in his private area and another girl kicks him.”

The girls told the teacher of the incident on Jan. 10, 2019. The teacher did not report it. The teacher called and told another teacher about the incident Jan. 10 and the second teacher did not report it, the motion says.

The first teacher, identified as Teacher #1 in the motion, sent the girls to the principal’s office around 3 p.m. The principal was unavailable so the teacher put the students on the bus to go home.

The next day, Friday, Jan. 11, 2019, the principal learned of the accusation of a male student touching girls with a pencil “in private area [sic],” the motion said. “Principal notifies Title 9 office of incident and begins investigation. Principal was advised to begin investigation and send end report at the end of the investigation.”

During the principal’s investigation, ECISD police began their investigation Jan. 14, 2019. The principal was unable to complete her investigation and was placed on administrative leave and arrested, the motion stated.

The ECISD policeman went to the County Attorney’s Office and spoke to the county attorney before filing charges. The ECISD police were told “looks like you have an indecency with a minor case.” Penal Code 21.11. “Go work it up,” the motion said.

The county attorney’s office declined to file charges against the boy under Penal Code 21.11 indecency with a child, the motion said.

District officials could not be reached for comment Thursday.

The motion said Voss was asking the court to quash this information. Amended information failed to identify “sexual conduct” Voss “failed to report.”

“There are numerous statutory definitions for the term ‘sexual conduct,’” the motion to quash amended information said.

The motion to quash amended information says the information filed does not provide adequate notice and means by which Voss committed the offenses alleged; the information fails to define what abuse Voss failed to report, if abuse had occurred; the information fails to identify or name the “abuse” she was required to report, if abuse occurred.”

 

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