Chain of Custody Contradictions In 'Hidden In Plainview' Sexual Assault Case Raise New Questions
How much MORE is being held from families involved in this case and the general public?
Months after a 6-year-old girl was sexually assaulted in her South Elementry 1st-grade classroom by other 6-year-old peers, little has been enacted to remedy the situation or to protect further incidents from occurring in the Plainview ISD district.
During a regular meeting hosted by Plainview ISD on June 22nd, 2023, the board addressed the findings from the April 19th incident before going into a lengthy closed session.
Plainview ISD Board of Education President, Adam Soto opened the June 22nd meeting by stating the following before introducing the Board’s attorney, Ms. Ann Manning, of Underwood Law Firm, P.C.
Editor’s note: I tried to transcribe this as said by those on video verbatim. This has been edited to the best of my ability without taking from the original context.
“We want to share the findings of the CPS investigation this evening and I just want to let everybody know that we have reserved comments. When I say ‘we’ I’m referring to the board, to the administration. Of these findings, attacks have been made against the campus personnel, the district administration, and the board because we are held at [to] a higher standard of conduct regarding public comments. So it has been more comfortable to state our positions rather than be printed, broadcast, and [on] social media that [sic] accusing of us committing wrongdoings such as hiding information and taking manners into not serious and even encouraging misconduct upon students. The legal standard that we must follow requires [us] to hold our personal opinions. Again, ‘we’ when I say ‘we,’ as a board are to wait to [for] the finding of facts and that’s what it’s all about, finding the facts. Once we found [find] the finding of facts, we can share it with y’all which is going to happen tonight with the appropriate audience,” Soto said.
“We are now at the point of finding the facts and it’s by an impartial third party which has been shared [by] the CPS report has been viewed by multiple levels and in the oversight of the Family Protective Services and it comes to connection with also conjunction with the FBI. So we regret the current which has happened in this district and we are committed to make the adjustments so this would not happen again or in the future. So with that, I’m going to ask our attorney, Miss Ann Manning. First of all, thank you for being here this evening to share with us the CPS findings.”
Ms. Manning approaches the podium and gives the following frigid statement. Notice how not once does she offer any condolences to the victims in this case, nor their family members. In fact, she doesn’t address the community at all, let alone those who have been harmed the most. Not one word of solace is directed to the family members who are still trying to console the 6-year-old who continually has nightmares about the incident and fears returning to the school. However, Manning is extremely sympathetic to what the Plainview ISD board has experienced since the assault occurred.
Also, take note of how Ms. Manning says the school-issued iPad, which contained 34 seconds of footage of the sexual assault against the little girl moved through the chain of custody. This footage was recorded by another 6-year-old student, during the assault.
“Good evening. Can you all hear me? I know we have needed transparency and that’s what I hope to be able to help you with tonight. I want to go through what we did when we get to the finding where we had the CPS report. When we knew of an incident, I was immediately contacted by Dr. Sanchez. We need to report to CPS and to the police and that’s what we did. CPS, once contacted, I instructed Dr. Sanchez to CPS, what we could say and they said nothing. We said, ‘What about to the parents?’, we had previously let them know there had been an incident but did not go into details and they forbade us to say anything.
With that, CPS had their investigation and we were at a standstill. We were not allowed to investigate at that time. Police were investigating. As you all know there was an iPad. And initially, when Dr. Sanchez called me there had been two people who had seen a small portion of that iPad, what was on that iPad, and Dr. Sanchez had not seen that. I immediately instructed him to get that to the police and no one was to look at it. As a result, as we fast forward while CPS conducts their investigation, the police conduct their investigation. FBI comes in. FBI then takes the iPad and we were still instructed not to say anything about CPS or by [sic] the FBI. FBI has completed their investigation and CPS had done as well. The CPS report was determined as to what was the teacher’s responsibility and they found no negligent supervision for any of the children and no sexual abuse.
With that, the FBI turned the iPad back over to the district and instructed us to keep it safe and it was placed with the police in the locked evidence room. Contact had been made all during this time as well with the District Attorney, and at that time the District Attorney instructed Dr. Sanchez to keep the iPad and no one is to look at it until he tells us they can because he might use that as evidence if he needs that in any type of litigation for them. I know this has been tremendously difficult for all of you, for all of the administration dealing with it. Dr. Sanchez in particular.
All I could tell you is this, we strove in every single way to follow the law. We wanted to say things. We wanted to console. We wanted to help, but we were prevented from doing so as a matter of law. I commend your administration. I commend you as a board for standing behind your administration at this time. And I just regret that we had rumors that were rumors, and they were wrong. But maybe we can get some peace about us and some closure for this event.”
Does it make sense to anyone reading this that the FBI would view the child’s sexual assault on the iPad, conduct an investigation, and then hand it to the School Board Superintendent who issued the iPad to the teacher at South Elementary with the footage still available in case the District Attorney needs it later down the road? Does it make any sense that in the attorney’s statement, she contradicts herself saying it was given to the superintendent, and in the next breath says it was locked in an evidence room after being placed with police? Which is it? Did she misspeak?
In what reality would the FBI have evidence of a sexual assault involving minors, which when videotaped by definition becomes child pornography then take the tablet with the evidence still on the device and hand it back over “for safe keeping” just in case? Were copies of this 34-second sexual assault made? How many have now viewed this? I can tell you who hasn’t. The family of the child being sexually assaulted, as well as the family of those who were assaulting her.
The family of the little girl who was sexually assaulted in her own classroom, with her teacher present during the assault on April 19th was not informed until April 27th. What happened during that time period when this iPad was being passed around? During this time the little girl was sent to school each day forced to sit and interact with the same children who sexually assaulted her, in the same room and recorded it on a school-issued iPad. It wasn’t until the family started to notice a change in behavior with the little girl that they began to press her on what was wrong and the little girl recounted the events. The family attempted to receive answers from the school and Plainview ISD administration, but were told “no comment.”
The attorney claims they were prevented from saying anything to the family members of the children involved in this incident by CPS, later saying they were forbidden to do so “as a matter of law.”
Soto then starts a closed session at 6:17 pm to speak with Manning, and the meeting does not reopen until 7:50 pm. Upon return, Soto immediately goes into item number six on the agenda, public comments.
Soto reminds those at the meeting that since there are five speakers scheduled to address the board, they will be limited to one minute each. Scheduled public commenters are normally allotted three minutes each to address the board, up to four speakers.
Each citizen addressing the board must state their name and home address before their statements, which comes off of the 60 seconds they’re allotted.
Of the five scheduled speakers, all were there to discuss the sexual assault against the 6-year-old girl. These included family members and friends of the family, as well as Samuel Gonzalez, who says he helps individuals with discrimination issues covering 60 counties in Texas, and Annalisa Carrillo, District Director from Central Texas. Both Gonzalez and Carrillo stressed the lack of care and general respect that’s been shown to the victim and her family during these investigations.
“We’ve got a young lady that there’s a problem and right is right, wrong is wrong and we just want justice and the right thing to be done and completed. I don’t think I need to say too much more. You know what I’m talking about and there needs to be some consequences on some of the issues that happened. More than just a slap on the hand is what’s really needed. I say it all with that,” Mr. Gonzalez says.
Carrillo states, “What has happened to the six-year-old was not an ‘event’ such as what the attorney had said. This is not an event, this is a traumatic experience for the six-year-old. We stand in solidarity with the family that wants justice and wants accountability on every level, on every level. We want the little girl's age not to be a factor. She has been a victim of sexual assault, and sexual abuse. We’re asking for accountability and we’re also asking you as a school board, what is your level of responsibility? What is your plan to fix it and make sure it doesn’t happen again? And, 34 seconds is a long time because that child will carry it for the rest of her life.”
The board cuts her microphone before she was able to finish her sentence. In the transcripts, her sentence ends with “carry it.”
When Esther Zapata, grandmother of the victim steps up to the microphone, she attempts to play audio from her phone. You can hear a board member, presumably Dr. Sanchez whispering to BOE President Soto, “She’s welcome to speak, but she can’t put somebody else on the microphone.” Soto then stops Zapata and says, “Okay, no. You signed up to speak not an individual on the phone so…”
Zapata responds, “I’ll tell you a little bit of what it said. We talked to the investigator. The investigator told us that he did not tell the school to keep it from us and this is what this recording is. We have proof. If you lied about this, what else have y’all lied about? What is accountability? My granddaughter’s case has not been resolved and my grandaughter is traumatized by the incident that happened at South Elementary in April 1923 . CPS Texas investigator that attended to the investigation stated ‘mutual consent’ between two minors while under the case. Teachers that took an oath to protect the children that is clearly a breach of contract. School Board, you also took an oath to protect the children to cultivate and maintain a safe learning environment. School Board you also failed this community. We are looking now, we are looking up to you. How will you prevent this from ever happening again?”
Another community member Jacob “Jayy” Reyna steps up to the podium and has a similar grievance. “I don’t respect anyone who thinks it's okay for little girls to be touched on without their consent. I represent protection for the kids and healing for this community because they’re tearing up and it’s tearing their community apart. We need to stand strong together and be the voice for those who can’t and won’t speak up. There are people who are losing sleep because nothing has been done and living with fear and thinking this is going to happen again. Six-year-olds cannot consent to this.”
The last speaker, Leah Garcia steps up and begins to speak. After stating her name and address she addresses the board, but on the official Plainview ISD YouTube account, they cut out her entire one-minute address.
Luckily, others have it recorded.
“I will not mention any names but allegedly one of you recently experienced as situation where your child had a water bottle thrown at them in the breezeway which hit them in the back of the head. And for that offense, you demanded the highest form of punishment to that student, assault with a deadly weapon and I respect that. Because that’s what a parent should do, protect and fight for their children. I just wish the same respect and empathy that was [were] given to the family and the victims. Now, I ask you to imagine the intensity of emotions that you would experience if it were not a water bottle, but a far more serious violation, a penis in your baby’s mouth. I’m not sure…”
The board cuts her mic and ends her statement.
In this school district, parents and the community cannot even utter the word “penis” but actual footage of a sexual assault on a 6-year-old child that happened in a classroom of this district can be passed around between law enforcement agencies, CPS, and from what the attorney herself stated were two school officials. The family of the victim has yet to see the 34 seconds of footage from the school-issued iPad that contains the sexual assault.
Something has to give with this case. Transparency has been non-existent from day one. Parents and family members have been shut down at every avenue when attempting to receive answers.
There are audio recordings of the CPS worker and family members involved in this case that contradict everything the lawyer stated during this June 22 board meeting. Hopefully, the family will allow me access to those, since the school board would not allow the audio to be played during the meeting. Stay tuned.
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