Trinity Administrators Trial: Everything we know so far
MIDLAND, Texas (KOSA) - TRIAL DAY SIX: After five days of testimony and cross-examination the Midland County District Attorney’s prosecuting the case against four Trinity administrators dismissed charges against them Wednesday afternoon.
The four Trinity Administrators were accused of failure to report with intent to conceal neglect or abuse.
Todd Freese- Dean of Students, Adrianne Clifton- Director of Admissions and Assistant Head for Administration, Shelby Hammer- Head of the School, and Chrystal Meyers - Head of the Middle School were all arrested in February of 2022.
The court’s decision to dismiss charges comes the day after arresting detective SGT. Jennie Alonzo took the stand as a witness.
TRIAL DAY FIVE: Two new witnesses took the stand on day five, MPD Detective Jennie Alonzo and Melissa McCabe a retired Trinity teacher.
Before those two witnesses appeared, the Active head of Trinity School, Tim Jones continued his testimony from day four.
Jones said he knows almost everyone involved in the case including the alleged victim and the alleged abuser.
He referred to the alleged abuser as respectful and never having an issue with him. He then spoke about the four administrators, saying they are truthful people.
When Alonzo took the stand she spoke about seeing the interview filmed with the Midland Rape Children Advocacy Center.
In that interview, Alonzo heard the alleged victim speak about two instances of indecency with a child.
Those instances were, the alleged abuser touching the alleged victim’s breasts as well as him allegedly touching her back with his penis.
Between this interview as well as speaking to the girl’s parents Alonzo said she had cause to make an arrest under the Texas Penal Code.
The defense attorneys referred back to the advocacy center interview, asking why Alonzo only listened to the alleged victim’s side of the story, despite multiple names being mentioned in the interview.
Alonzo replied she was told by her superior to get the proper warrants and make the arrests.
Attorneys then brought retired Trinity teacher, Melissa McCabe to the stand.
McCabe was involved in the meetings between the alleged victim and Trinity administrators but is not being charged.
In McCabe’s testimony, she mentioned, being in the room with Todd Freese, Chrystal Meyers, and the alleged victim back in 2020.
She said in that meeting the girl never mentioned multiple accusations that she made in the advocacy center interview two years later.
CBS7′s court reporter says that McCabe started to tear up when she saw her long-time friends standing trial.
TRIAL DAY FOUR: After a break for the weekend, the trial resumed Monday for the Trinity Administrators.
New information came out on day four, showing the parents of the alleged victim thanked the school’s administration on multiple occasions.
During the cross-examination of the mother, the defense team showed messages that had been subpoenaed.
The first was an email the parents had sent saying the administrators did a great job with their daughter’s case.
Another email, sent to the prosecution, showed that the mother was upset with the school for a number of reasons, including pronouns, dress code, and lost foundation of the church.
A third email was sent by the mother to the District Attorney’s office, asking for a restraining order against Shelby Hammer for her daughter’s protection.
At the beginning of the trial, the alleged victim stated that she would go onto her phone and see messages she never sent.
Monday, her mother admitted to sending text messages to her daughter’s friends as her daughter.
TRIAL DAY THREE: Those who knew the alleged victim took the stand on day three and shared with the jury how they approached the school about the alleged abuse.
CBS7′s court reporter says the Midland County Courtroom was filled with emotion as the mother of the alleged victim took the stand for the prosecution.
For five hours the alleged victim’s mom answered questions about what happened to her child.
One of those questions was about the timeline of events.
The mother testified that she had sent emails to the school once she learned of the abuse but was never given a reply.
She then said she and her family went into Trinity to speak directly with Todd Freese where they were told the emails they had sent ended up in the spam folder.
The mother continued on to say that in that meeting they were made aware the school already knew about the incident because of an unnamed student coming forward since he was worried about the alleged victim.
This student also took the stand on day three.
The defense then took their turn in questioning the mother, showing text messages between her and a friend.
In those messages, the mother stated that she never thought the charges against Chrystal Meyers and Adrienne Clifton were necessary.
When the classmate of the alleged victim took the stand he spoke about when he told Freese about the incident. Stating he went to him after he saw the alleged victim in distress.
The classmate then said he never saw the boy grab the alleged victim’s butt or any other inappropriate touching.
He said he was told by administrators to not go around discussing the incident.
The case will resume Monday at 9:00 a.m.
TRIAL DAY TWO: Cross-examinations started court for the day, with the defense continuing their turn in questioning the 16-year-old who claims she was abused by an older Trinity student in 2019.
The defense team began with an interview between the alleged victim and the Midland Rape Advocacy Center.
This interview was filmed and took place three days before the Trinity administrators were arrested in 2022.
In the interview, the alleged victim stated that her former classmate would ask if he could grab her butt.
She admitted that she would say yes and that despite knowing what he was doing was bad she did not want him to stop because she felt he was showing her affection.
The trial was disrupted shortly after this video was shown when the defense asked the alleged victim why she thinks these four are on trial to which she responded something about “a gag order” in place.
This caused Frank Sellers (Chrystal Meyers’ attorney) to ask for a recess. The Judge then asked the jury to step out.
After the jury was dismissed Sellers exclaimed “I call for a mistrial”.
This motion was denied and the jury was told to disregard the alleged victim’s comment and not let it affect their decision on this trial.
After the jury returned, the defense brought up that in the alleged victim’s meeting with Chrystal Meyers (Trinity Head of Middle School and Defendant), there was a second faculty member present, a member who is not on trial.
The defense then made the claim that the girl’s parents have personal vendettas against certain Trinity faculty.
During the cross-examination, one of the defense lawyers stated to the witness that because of her allegations, the four defendants have been out of work for 14 months, to which she responded,
“They’re still getting paid”
CBS7′s reporter in the court said the witness’s response caused an emotional reaction to ripple through the courtroom.
After the defense and the prosecution made their opening statements they called their first witnesses.
One of those witnesses was the alleged victim. When she took the stand, she went into graphic detail about what happened when she was 12.
She spoke about a meeting with Todd Freese back in 2019 where she says she felt uncomfortable explaining to him the alleged abuse she went through.
The prosecution does not have to prove that the abuse occurred but they do have to convince the jury, that licensed and certified professionals failed to make a report within 48 hours of the alleged abuse.
Both the defense and prosecution brought documents pertaining to the case.
A document brought up by the defense showed that there was not enough substantial evidence of the risk of abuse, neglect, or exploitation.
BEFORE THE TRIAL: On Friday, February 25, 2022, at around 11 A.M. the Midland Police Department arrested four administrators at Trinity School of Midland for failure to report with intent to conceal neglect or abuse.
The four arrested were: Todd Freese- Dean of Students, Adrianne Clifton- Director of Admissions and Assistant Head for Administration, Shelby Hammer- Head of the School, and Chrystal Meyers - Head of the Middle School.
According to an affidavit, the victim says she was sexually assaulted at the Trinity School from Sept to Dec 2019.
The affidavit says the victim’s friend told the Dean of Trinity School, Todd Freese what was happening on the date of the last incident in Dec 2019.
Court documents say Freese did not report the sexual assault to a state agency which is a violation of the Texas Family Code.
According to state law, all school employees are required to report abuse or neglect to law enforcement, CPS, or another state agency within 48 hours of the event.
Failure to report with the intent to conceal abuse or neglect is a felony if proven.
The private school sent out the following statement shortly after the arrests:
“Dear Trinity Community,
As many of you are aware, Midland police were on campus this morning to detain Head of School Shelby Hammer, Director of Admissions Adrianne Clifton, Head of Middle School Chrystal Myers, and Dean of Students Todd Freese in order to question them for failure to report abuse or neglect. I write this evening to let you know that the Board of Trustees and Administrative Leadership Team are aware of the situation and committed to navigating these difficult circumstances with the students’ best interest in mind.
As you may know, Shelby Hammer wrote to you recently to share information about Trinity’s child protection policies and protocols, including mandatory reporting. Mandatory reporting and student safety is taken very seriously at our school. While we cannot provide specific details given the active investigation, we can share that to the best of our knowledge, the matters in question occurred years ago and were reported to Child Protective Services. Please rest assured that we are continuing to cooperate with the authorities.
Tim Jones has been asked to serve as Acting Head of School. We are grateful to him, administrators, and the faculty and staff who continue to hold the welfare and safety of your children as their highest priority and who stepped up today to care for your children and ensure that their learning was uninterrupted.
We will continue to share information with you as best we can. "
November 10, 2022, the four Trinity School administrators were indicted by a grand jury on “failure to report with intent to conceal neglect or abuse” charges.
On November 15, 2022, concerned citizens spoke at a Midland City Council meeting about the indictments of former and current employees from both Midland Christian School and Trinity School of Midland.
Community members asked the City to look into investigating the indictment and the Midland Police Department.
This is all the reporting done by CBS7 First Alert News on the Trinity arrests since February 2022.
CBS7 will continue to update this article as the trial unfolds.
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