MIDLAND, Texas (KMID/KPEJ)- Two former Midland Christian administrators, Dana Ellis and Jared Lee, along with current staff member Matthew Counts, were indicted by a Grand Jury this week. The trio have been charged with failure to make a required child abuse report with intent to conceal.
The indictments were handed out this week and are not related to the arrests that took place earlier this year. Instead, the indictment alleges that the administrators failed to report a situation that occurred on November 15. 2021.
Local attorney Jeff Parras issued a news release Thursday pertaining to his client, Counts, that reads, in part:
“Earlier today I was notified that my client…had again been charged with an offense initiated by the Midland Police Department…the most recent false accusation led by one of the same investigators whose prior false charges were dismissed in May. We are extremely disappointed, though not entirely surprised, with the vindictive actions of the detective, and equally disappointed that the leadership at MPD did not address the obvious conflict and assign an unbiased investigator…”.
The attorney went on to say that the alleged incident in 2021 involved a teenaged student who was “accidentally struck in the head”. Parras noted that accidents are specifically excluded from the definition of abuse used to charge his client.
Parras said, “All those present who saw it (the incident) have described it as an accident, including the student himself. Neither Matt Counts nor the other two educators charged today saw the student at all that day and were only later made aware of the accident. Their only commonality is that they are plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the city and Midland Police Department personnel…The school nurses, the classroom teacher, the student’s parents, and personnel at Midland Medical Clinic all saw the student that very day and all have the same duty to report abuse, which cannot be delegated to anyone else. None of them were charged.”
The lawsuit referenced by Parras was filed on behalf of Counts, Ellis, Lee, and two other former MCS administrators in August after a Grand Jury declined to indict the group on similar charges that were filed in February.
Parras described these new allegations as “false” and said the charges are an “injustice” for Counts and his family.
“We have already notified the Court that we are ready for trial and have requested a speedy trial, and look forward to defending this false, vindictive accusation in front of a jury of unbiased Midland County citizens at the Court’s earliest convenience,” Parras concluded.
For it’s part, Midland Christian School is standing by its current and former employees, saying this in a statement:
“Yesterday we learned that one of our employees, Matt Counts, along with two of our former employees, Jared Lee and Dana Ellis, were indicted on charges initiated by the Midland Police Department regarding an accident at school unrelated to the prior false charges that were dismissed in May. The accusations for these new charges were known prior to Wednesday’s Grand Jury decision, but we are intensely disappointed and frustrated by the decision to bring an indictment. We know Matt to be an upstanding member of the Midland community, an excellent teacher, coach, and mentor to our students and MCS families. The charges brought against Matt, Jared, and Dana are false based on the facts as we know them and we stand in complete support of an aggressive defense of their innocence. The Board of Trustees has diligently worked through the proper channels to ensure that Matt is allowed to remain on our campus, serving in his role as an educator and coach, while he awaits due process. We trust in the Lord and maintain our faith that He will be glorified through this tough situation. We pray that we see His deliverance for the people we care about to come quickly and solicit your support and prayers for the Counts, Lee, and Ellis families.”
Ellis, Lee, and Counts were all released from custody shortly after booking on a $5,000 bond.