MIDLAND, Texas (KMID/KPEJ)- Jury selection began Monday in the trial of Four Midland Trinity administrators who were charged with one count each of Failure to Report with Intent to Conceal Neglect or Abuse: the charges stem from a late February 2022 arrest.
According to an affidavit obtained last year, Dean of Students Todd Freese, Director of Admissions Adrianne Clifton, Head of Schools Shelby Hammer, and Head of Middle School Chrystal Meyers were all arrested after a former student made an outcry of abuse on February 22, 2022, during an interview at Midland Children’s Advocacy Center.
She detailed multiple instances of sexual abuse she said she allegedly experienced while at school in 2019 and claimed the abuse came at the hands of a male student. According to the affidavit, the victim was under the age of 14 when the assaults began. The student told a forensic interviewer that the abuse happened frequently over the course of four months and that the last incident had occurred just before Christmas break in 2019.
The teen said on December 17, 2019, the boy approached her desk while the teacher was out of the room and stuck his hand down her pants. The victim said when she asked her classmates for help, they laughed.
After that alleged assault, the victim said her friend told Freese what had happened and that in the days following, she and the suspect were interviewed by Freese.
The victim said she told Freese about other instances of abuse that had occurred in the gym in front of cameras. The victim said she told Freese she feared the suspect because of his size. Freese then told the student he would “check the cameras”.
The affidavit continued to describe multiple sexual misconduct the victim allegedly faced at the hands of the unidentified suspect, including him groping and forcing her to touch him.
The victim’s parents said they also reached out to Freese via email, but Freese told MPD he never received the email. The parents said they then went to the school to talk in person and that Freese said it was a “he said, she said situation”.
Following Christmas break, the girl’s mother reached out to Hammer and a meeting was set for January 20. However, the parents said they confronted Freese and Myers on January 15 because they had “had enough” because the suspect had not yet been removed from class. The administrators told the parents they would work on it, they also told the parents Hammer said she was unaware of the situation, even though the mother said Hammer had been the one to set the January 20th meeting.
The mother said she again met with Hammer on January 22, and that Clifton was present for the meeting. None of the administrators ever reported the situation to MPD.
Soon after the meeting, the victim missed school due to illness and did not see the suspect for quite a while. When she finally returned to school, she said she was upset to see the suspect again. The victim’s parents decided to remove her from the school.
In September of 2020, Hammer sent out a waiver to the victim’s parents asking them to agree to settle all disputes and to keep the information regarding the assaults confidential. According to the affidavit, the parents were promised a partial tuition refund if they would agree to sign.
The parents said they reached out to a lawyer and eventually decided not to sign the waiver because they did not want to take away the victim’s right to talk about what happened to her.
Following that February arrest, the four administrators were released on a $5,000 bond. It is unclear if the student accused is facing any charges.
The four were indicted by a Grand Jury last November and opening statements are expected to begin Tuesday morning once jury selection is complete.