The following is a press release from Rusty Hardin & Associates, LLP via Androvett:

MIDLAND, Texas (PRESS RELEASE) — Five educators from Midland Christian School have sued the City of Midland, the Midland Police Department, and Detective Jennie Alonzo, following the exoneration of the five on false allegations that they failed to report a sexual assault in January.

The school’s own investigation determined what happened was nothing more than locker room horseplay among members of the baseball team. Nearly 90 days later, a Midland County grand jury investigating the incident declined to indict any of the five plaintiffs in the case. They are:

  • Former Superintendent Jared Lee
  • Former Principal Dana Ellis
  • Former Assistant Principal Matthew Counts
  • Former Athletic Director Greg McClendon
  • Former Head Baseball Coach Barry Russell
Left: Lee (top), Ellis (bottom) | Right: Russell (top), McClendon (middle), Counts (bottom)
(Photos from KMID, KPEJ and YourBasin.com; Source: Midland County Jail)

“This was one of the most egregious cases of irresponsible police action I’ve seen in decades of practicing law,” said attorney Rusty Hardin. “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.”

According to the lawsuit, the locker room incident happened in January 2022, when a sophomore player poked a freshman player on the buttocks – over his clothes – with a bat. By the time the story reached the police department a week and a half later, the details had been embellished to the point that there was a claim the freshman had been sexually assaulted.

The lawsuit says at no time did any school official have reasonable cause to believe the freshman had been sexually assaulted. The freshman himself denied repeatedly that it was anything more than roughhousing in the locker room. When they were asked, all of the students involved gave the same version of the events.

“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,” Mr. Hardin said.

The lawsuit accuses investigators of carrying out a false, biased, and vindictive campaign against the plaintiffs, including arresting the five on school grounds and then “perp-walking” them in front of news cameras that the police arranged to be present.

The filing also accuses Det. Alonzo of swearing to information she knew to be false in an arrest warrant affidavit, most seriously that the school knew of a sexual assault and failed to report it—which was not true.

The case is Jared Lee et al. v. City of Midland et al., No. 7:22-cv-185, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas.

Rusty Hardin & Associates, LLP has built a solid reputation for taking on the causes of its clients and obtaining favorable results in commercial litigation, white-collar criminal defense, plaintiffs’ personal injury, appellate matters, and general civil and criminal litigation. To learn more about the firm’s representative matters, visit  https://www.rustyhardin.com/.     

(Press release from Rusty Hardin & Associates, LLP via Androvett)