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Author Topic: Houston school investigates after students, sex offender trade letters  (Read 2759 times)
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MuffyBee
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« on: April 12, 2012, 06:08:52 PM »

http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/article/Fourth-graders-at-private-school-were-pen-pals-3476044.php
Houston school investigates after students, sex offender trade letters
By Zeke MacCormack
April 11, 2012

SAN ANTONIO - Officials at a Houston private school said they are investigating how a teacher arranged for a group of fourth-graders to correspond with a man who had been charged with child sexual molestation.

The man, Rickey R. Rowlett of New Braunfels, was convicted last month of repeatedly sexually assaulting a girl younger than 14 between 2008 and 2011.


While he was jailed in Comal County, Rowlett exchanged letters with students at Trinity Lutheran Church and School, at the corner of Houston and Washington near downtown.

"It's very alarming," Comal County District Attorney Jennifer Tharp said of the pen pal relationship. Authorities found the letters as they were transferring Rowlett from one cell to another in the county jail.

Tharp traveled to Houston to alert staff and parents to the letters, in which she said fourth-graders provided detailed personal information and expressed a desire to meet Rowlett once he was free.

John Menke, chairman of the school's governing board, called the voluntary project that Laura Perry suggested for her class "absolutely unacceptable."

"We've hired a private investigator to find out exactly what happened and have enacted new security protocols and policies," Menke said Wednesday.

Teacher not on staff

Perry is no longer on the school staff, Menke said, and the principal, Amy Boatman, was placed on administrative leave while the issue is reviewed.
 ::snipping2::
Authorities say Perry, a family friend of Rowlett, told the students he had been wrongly accused.

Over several months, as many as a dozen students exchanged letters with Rowlett, who had no prior criminal record.
 ::snipping2::
Parents of two children enrolled at the school, one in Perry's class, have filed suit.

The suit, filed March 27, claims Pastor Michael Dorn approved of the pen pal project, but Menke said his investigation indicates that only Perry and Boatman knew of it.

"There's a long history of churches corresponding with inmates," Menke said. "In this case, it was really poorly handled. We didn't have good information or know the type of charges pending."

The suit also claims the students had contact with Perry's husband, who is charged with possessing and promoting child pornography in Harris County.
Menke said Blake Perry, 23, had not been around the school since his arrest.

The suit claims otherwise, saying that Blake Perry, despite being told by Dorn to have no interaction with students, was around the school after his arrest and may have helped coach soccer there.
 ::snipping2::
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MuffyBee
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« Reply #1 on: April 12, 2012, 06:14:53 PM »

This article is a little older, (and long)  but has information.

http://www.courthousenews.com/2012/03/28/45110.htm
Parents Say School Had Kids Write to Child Molester
By CAMERON LANGFORD
March 28, 2012

HOUSTON (CN) - Parents claim in court that their son's fourth-grade teacher at Trinity Lutheran School had her class start a pen pal correspondence with an accused child molester without telling them, and he shared the letters with other jail inmates convicted of sex crimes against children.
     John and Jane Doe sued Trinity Lutheran Church / The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod dba Trinity Lutheran School, in Harris County Court.
     Jane Doe on her own behalf and as next friend of the couple's children, Child Doe 1 and Child Doe 2, who both attended the school until the pen pal assignment was made known to parents.
     The Does claim Trinity pastor Michael Dorn had a lax policy on protecting students from child abusers, as he was aware that 4th-grade teacher Laura Perry's fiancÚ, Blake Perry, had been indicted for possessing child pornography in Harris County, Texas.
 ::snipping2::
 "The only action admitted by Dorn to have been taken was to tell Blake Perry that he was to have no interaction with children, and then to rely on his trustworthiness that he would abide," according to the complaint. "Upon information and belief, this recommendation was widely ignored, that Blake Perry had contact with the children's classrooms and may have even participated, while under indictment, in the coaching of children's sports at Trinity. This was first made known to the parents generally, and the adult plaintiffs here, at a meeting headed by Dorn on March 26, 2012.
     "Further, and more alarmingly, Laura Perry proposed a classroom activity by her 9- and 10-year-old students to begin a pen-pal relationship with an individual awaiting trial for child molestation in Comal County, Texas. This individual, Ricky Rea Rowlett, was charged with aggravated sexual assault of a child, a crime for which he was convicted on March 22 (Exhibit 2 as is readily available in the public records accessible online).
     "This proposed contact was cleared through the pastor of the church, Michael Dorn and through the principal of the school, Amy Boatman." (Parentheses in complaint.)
     The Does say the information about Rowlett was publicly available through a simple Google search, "but Boatman and Dorn failed to take the time or care to research it."
 ::snipping2::
The Does claim that Laura Perry lied to her students about why Rowlett was in jail.
     "The children were told by Laura Perry that Rickey Rea Rowlett had kidnapped his grandchildren to keep them from harm by parents or others. In reality, Rowlett had been accused of aggravated sexual assault (continuous child sex abuse with a victim under 14) of his grandchildren," according to the complaint.
     "Laura Perry had her children, as a project to obtain a grade in the classroom, participate in an open writing campaign with Rowlett by which the children, including Child Doe 1 would give their personal information to Rowlett and Rowlett would respond with warm and encouraging letters to the children, such as Child Doe 1, allowing Rowlett to establish a rapport with the children and establishing them as potential future victims of his and others." (Parentheses in complaint.)
     The Does claim that to get the children's letters past the Comal County Sheriff's Department, "Laura Perry would give them [to] her father, who would repackage them in a larger envelope or package for delivery to Rowlett to avoid detection as 'contraband' by the jail."
     The complaint continues: "In the Comal County jail, all persons charged with child or sexual crimes were kept out of general population, but were segregated together with contact and communications between them. The letters from these children, containing full names, ages, and locations where the children could be found could be, and upon information and belief were, distributed freely among alleged and convicted criminals of all sorts of sexual crimes against children. The Comal County jail was also a potential conduit for this private information on minor children into the Texas Department of Criminal Justice generally."
     "The children were primed by Laura Perry and the administration of Trinity into defenders of the character of Rowlett, perhaps even being fashioned such that their letters could be presented in court to assist in Rowlett's lower punishment, innocence finding and/or early release in opposition to the law enforcement attempts of the Comal County District Attorney's office. Laura Perry's father, who assisted Trinity in the facilitation of communications to Rowlett, testified at Rowlett's trial on Rowlett's behalf.
     "On March 22, 2012, Rowlett was convicted of Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Child Victim Under 14 by a jury and was sentenced to 50 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. (TDCJ).
     "On that same day, the Comal County Sheriff's Department located in Rowlett's possession on his transport to TDCJ, several communications in letter form to and from the minor child students of Laura Perry at Trinity. Included were communications to and from Child Doe 1 with his identification by name, school location, interests and other personal information.
More....
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MuffyBee
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« Reply #2 on: April 12, 2012, 06:17:48 PM »

http://www.myfoxdfw.com/dpp/news/School-Sued-over-Pen-Pal-Project-with-Child-Sex-Abuser-041212
School Sued over Pen Pal Project with Child Sex Abuser
April 12, 2012


Rickey Rowlett



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  " Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts."  - Daniel Moynihan
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