Texas Justice

By Ta-Nehisi Coates

The Times initial story on the gang rape of a sixth grade girl in Texas came in for a good deal of justified criticism. This one is better, though there are still quite a few unanswered questions about the case.  The girl was raped several times over a period of months. And it really seems like the rapes were an open secret. I'd really like to know more about Cleveland, Texas and the family. There's some good detail on the suspects, and this helps:


The father said he had been worried about his daughter's safety for months before the assaults. She had been sneaking out of the house two or three nights a week, he said, climbing out a bedroom window. Some nights she would come home as late as 11 p.m. or midnight, saying she had visited girlfriends. He said he and his wife had scolded her almost daily. Both parents are plagued with health problems. 

Juan injured his back in November 2009 and has not held a steady job since. A diabetic, he receives disability checks of $700 a month. His wife, 42, was told last year that she had a mass in her brain, and a doctor had said it should be removed, friends said. She suffers frequent headaches and fainting spells. Yet she put off surgery and continued to work at night at a cashier at an underground gambling parlor, friends said. "She wasn't interested in living," said Maria Luisa Lopez, a longtime friend. "She felt very sad." 

Two months ago, when the arrests started, the state Child Protective Services placed the girl, who had also received threats, in a foster home. "They told her it was best that they take her away from this town," Ms. Lopez said. A case worker has informed Juan that he and his wife must attend family therapy sessions to regain custody. Juan said he was despondent at the prospect of losing his daughter permanently. He said that she was doing well but that she was still fearful. "You can see she's not happy," he said. Then he added, "She will never recover from this."

I'd hear more of this sort of detail (though it still leaves questions) especially relating to the community and something beyond a rather general statement about racial bias. 

UPDATE: More here.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/03/texas-justice/73188/