In December of 2015, a woman named only as Jenny was a star witness in the case against serial rapist Keith Hendricks, who was eventually given two life sentences for his crimes. Jenny is diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and when she took the stand, the trauma of being questioned caused a mental breakdown. She ran from the courtroom, saying she wouldn’t return.
Jenny was found in the street, and taken to the hospital. Her mother was told she’d be treated in a mental health facility, but after leaving the hospital she was cuffed, put in the back of a police car, and driven to the Harris County Jail.
According to Click 2 Houston, Jenny was kept in general population for over a month, after prosecutors petitioned a judge for a “witness bond,” a law that allows a witness to be held without bail to ensure they show up to testify.
While in jail, it appears that some corrections officers mistakenly believed it was Jenny was being held for aggravated sexual assault, rather than a victim of that crime. She was evaluated multiple times and in some records the evaluator makes note of the fact that Jenny insists she was the person assaulted, yet she was not removed form the general population.
On January 8, Jenny attacked a guard and was given a black eye and charged with assault (those charges have since been dropped). She eventually testified against Hendricks on January 11, but was held for three more days after the trial.
Jenny and her attorney Sean Buckley are now suing Harris County, the Sheriff Ron Hickman, the jail guard Jenny attacked, and Nicholas Socias, the prosecutor who requested that she be jailed. District Attorney Devon Anderson’s office released a statement that seems to imply that Jenny’s family complied with the witness bond, but under the mistaken assumption that she would receive care in an appropriate facility:
“Because the DA’s Office has been notified that a lawsuit is imminent, we cannot go into details about this case... However, witness bonds are a common tool used by prosecutors and defense attorneys when the lawyer has reason to believe that the witness will be unavailable or make him or herself unavailable for trial. A judge must approve a witness bond. In this case the judge and family agreed with the decision to obtain a witness bond.”
Screenshot via Click2Houston/KPRC2.