Letter to the Editor

March 1, 2012

Dear Editor:
There has been media coverage recently of two cases involving crimes against children here in Nolan County. Unfortunately, these crimes do happen here, in our community, as well as every other community in our country, too often. Every one of them is serious and affects many lives. My office and I, as well as law enforcement, deal with these cases on a daily basis. We all work hard to successfully prosecute these cases. Sometimes, however, that is not possible.
When law enforcement officers investigate the outcries made by victims in these cases, often they cannot corroborate the allegations by any other source. This is not unusual in cases like this. Occasionally, there is evidence in a case that is not admissible in a trial so I cannot use it. Most of the time, the only evidence we have in these cases is the victim’s testimony. When the victim, for whatever reason, cannot testify, I cannot try the case or force a defendant to plead. These cases then have to be dismissed. The parents of the victim in the Turner case told me more than once that their child could not testify. While I understand they are upset that this had to happen, there were not any other options.
In the Villa case, which was pled last week, these acts occurred over a period of time several years ago. The victim in that case is now an adult with a family of their own. Rather than face the stress and uncertainty of a jury trial, the victim wanted the case to be disposed of with probation and registration as a sex offender. In exchange for that, Mr. Villa pled guilty. When we are able to get what the victim wants, then I feel the case has been successfully prosecuted.
It is an unfortunate reality that we live with and deal with sex offenders every day in our communities. Some we know about, some we don’t. April is Child Abuse Awareness Month. The West Texas Children’s Advocacy Center helps the victims and their families in cases like these. The CAC will have a banquet on April 3 to help raise money to provide services to these children. I know they would appreciate your support.

Ann Reed
32nd Judicial District Attorney
Sweetwater

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