Grand Prairie Files No Charges After Special Needs Child Molested

Father of boy who civil jury says was sexually assaulted worries that teacher who did it is still near kids

Dallas County, TX  –  A Dallas civil jury found a teacher sexually assaulted an 11-year-old boy with autism.  Now the child’s father is raising concerns about whether the teacher is still around children at the same school.

His son had attended Anderson Private School in Parker County for six weeks when, the civil jury found, Alexander Anderson, now 31, sexually assaulted the boy on an Oct. 31, 2014 field trip to Ripley’s Believe It or Not! in Grand Prairie.  The teacher, Alexander Anderson, lives with his parents in a nearby home that shares the same address as the school.

,jpg photo of Ripley's Believe It or Not attraction in Grand Prairie Texas
Ripley’s Believe It or Not attraction in Grand Prairie, TX

The father of the boy is afraid that Anderson may still have “access to kids,” he said in an interview with The Dallas Morning News.  The News does not typically identify victims of sexual assault or their families.  The boy just turned 15.

The civil jury awarded the boy and his father more than $8 million in December after finding Anderson committed sexual assault and assault against the boy and after finding that Anderson’s parents had defamed the child’s father during a police investigation into the incident.

No criminal charges have been filed and Grand Prairie police closed the investigation.  The case was tried in Dallas because Ripley’s is in Dallas County.

William “Rocky” Feemster, an attorney for the Andersons and the school, said Alexander Anderson, his parents and the school say no sexual assault occurred.
“My clients disputed the allegations and continue to do that,” he said.  “My clients, especially Alexander Anderson, denied this even occurred.”

Feemster confirmed that Anderson still lives “contiguous” to Anderson Private School.  Records show they share the same Fort Worth address on five acres in Parker County.  Several buildings are located on the property, including the home where Anderson lives with his parents, who founded and operate the school.

Anderson also worked at the school and the school’s website still says he is on the staff, but Feemster says he stopped working for the school after the jury’s verdict.

Anderson does not have a criminal conviction and a civil jury’s verdict does not require him to register as a sex offender.  So there’s nothing to prevent him from living close to a school.

In December, a jury awarded the boy $4,041,250 from Alexander Anderson “for the sexual assault and the assault,” according to court records.  The same jury also awarded the father $1.75 million “for the defamation” by William Anderson and $2.5 million “for the defamation” by LeVonna Anderson.  William Anderson is Alexander Anderson’s father and LeVonna Anderson is his mother.

The boy is a high functioning autistic child, according to his father.   He attended regular classes in public school with the help of an aide until, as the school district grew, the father decided to look elsewhere.  He chose Anderson Private School because it presented itself to the boy’s family as a safe environment with highly qualified teachers in a highly supervised environment.    There were about 15 students enrolled when the boy attended, his father said.

The field trip

All students leave the school each Friday for “an adventurous experience” and they also take an overnight trip each year, according to the school’s website.

The father of the assault victim chaperoned the 2014 field trip to Ripley’s, which features a wax museum and an exhibit of odd but true events.

During the trip, the father said in an interview, he began to panic when he lost sight of his son.

Grainy, silent surveillance video shows the boy and his father in the lobby.  The father walks into an adjacent room to talk to others on the field trip.  John Sloan, the family attorney, said the father was asking other adults on the trip whether they were going through the exhibits as a single group or in smaller groups.  In the video, the father picks up his belongings and walks back to the lobby.

Only seconds have passed, but his son is no longer in the lobby.  Another camera recorded Alexander Anderson walking out of an exhibit and the boy following him back inside the exhibit.

The father said he found his son alone in the gift shop after they’d been separated about 11 minutes.  At the time, the father said, he didn’t realize something had happened to his son while they were separated.

“It was during this field trip that Alexander Anderson preyed upon and sexually assaulted” the child, the lawsuit alleged.  “Alexander Anderson was familiar with Ripley’s, as the Anderson School had taken field trips there in the past.  As a result of his familiarity, Alexander Anderson knew Ripley’s did not have adequate security or adequate staffing in many areas of the premises and there would be ample opportunity to commit his intended sexual assault.”

The lawsuit said Alexander Anderson “took advantage of” the boy’s disability and “lured” him “into an area at Ripley’s where he knew they were alone and away from the group, and sexually assaulted” him.

Later, at home, the father began to worry that something had happened on the field trip.  He told The News that his son, “told me later that evening that the teachers at his school were ‘mean.’  He had been super excited about school until then.”

The father phoned the son’s therapist, Sloan said.  The therapist later met with the boy and then called the police.

According to medical records from Cook Children’s hospital in Fort Worth, the boy told a nurse specific details about the assault.

He also told the nurse “Alex is bad.  I don’t like Anderson school.”

Police investigation

Grand Prairie police began to investigate the case Nov. 4. 2014, but said in a statement that there was not enough evidence to file charges.

“Both insufficient evidence and conflicting evidence hindered prosecution of this case,” the department said in a statement.  “Should additional evidence become available, we will immediately re-open the case.”

Sloan said a flawed police investigation prevented a criminal case from moving forward.

“By allowing the adult suspect’s mother to be present during Alexander Anderson’s first and only interrogation, and by allowing her to dominate the interrogation with defamatory statement after defamatory statement about the victim’s father the GPPD investigation was tainted from the beginning,” Sloan said.

Typically, law enforcement investigators interview people separately or with only their attorneys present.  When people are interviewed together, officers have a more difficult time determining their individual version of events.

The father said William and LeVonna Anderson told police and others that he was “on drugs” and was “outside using drugs” during the field trip.  In the civil trial, the jury awarded part of the $8 million judgment for defamation after finding those allegations to be false.

Grand Prairie police declined to answer questions about whether defamatory statements against the father or interviewing Alexander Anderson and his mother at the same time damaged the investigation.

Feemster, the attorney for the Andersons, said the police investigation went nowhere because Alexander Anderson committed no crime.

Settlement

The school does not have insurance, Sloan said.  The Andersons’ homeowners insurance policy covers defamation, he said, but not money owed to the boy because of the sexual assault.

Earlier this month, the school, the Andersons and their insurance company came to an agreement with the father and his son on how to resolve the case.  The agreement could be finalized soon, but the terms are confidential.

Feemster said his clients’ insurance company decided to settle rather than appeal. Both sides, he said, wanted to settle “to get away from each other” and have the case finished.

The News tried to reach the Andersons through the school.  A man who answered the school’s phone declined to identify himself or answer questions about the lawsuit.

“It was a frivolous lawsuit.  Nothing ever happened.  It was done for money,” the man said before hanging up.

The father said he hopes Grand Prairie police carry on with the investigation.

The father said his son’s life will never be the same after the assault, adding that he is worried about other students at the school.

“We hoped to make it so he’s not a teacher anymore,” the father said.  His son is “alive but he’s destroyed.”

Remember Bullying Programs Were Unsuccessful

Texas school shooter’s father suspects Bullying caused him to snap

When Bullying school programs began, I made the statement that these would never be successful, because they all addressed Child on Child Bullying only.  In all my years experience, serious Bullying always involved at least one adult, and most times, it involved multiple adults, with at least one or more being teachers or coaches.
Robert StrongBow

A 17-year-old student accused of fatally shooting 10 people at a Texas high school should be seen as a “victim” because he may have recently been bullied, causing him to lash out, his father said.

In a phone interview over the weekend with Greece’s Antenna TV, Antonios Pagourtzis said he wished he could have stopped the killing Friday at Santa Fe High School.  His voice cracked as he described how he told police to let him inside the school so his son, Dimitrios Pagourtzis, could kill him instead.  He said he suspects his son was under pressure, perhaps due to bullying.

“Something must have happened now, this last week,” he told the station.  “Somebody probably came and hurt him, and since he was a solid boy, I don’t know what could have happened.  I can’t say what happened.  All I can say is what I suspect as a father.”

The suspect’s attorney, Nicholas Poehl, has said he is investigating whether his client endured any “teacher-on-student” bullying after reading reports of the teen being mistreated by football coaches.  The school district issued a statement saying it investigated the accusations and “confirmed that these reports were untrue.”

The elder Pagourtzis said his son took a legally owned shotgun and handgun from his closet before leaving for school that day.  The teen didn’t own firearms of his own, he said.

“My son, to me, is not a criminal, he’s a victim,” he said.  “The kid didn’t own guns, I owned guns.”

Dimitrios Pagourtzis is being held in the Galveston County jail on capital murder charges. Authorities say eight students and two teachers were killed in the attack, and 13 others wounded.

Antonios Pagourtzis said his son never displayed any signs that he would be capable of such violence, explaining that he didn’t fight with others, didn’t drink alcohol and seemed to enjoy healthy pursuits such as working out.

“He pulled the trigger but he is not this person,” he said.  “It is like we see in the movies when someone gets into his body and does things that are not done.  It’s not possible in one day for the child to have changed so much.”

He said that after the teen had been taken into custody, he and his wife were allowed to visit him for 15-20 minutes.

“I saw the child.  I didn’t see a child who is a murderer.  A pure child, a child who was ashamed to look me in the face,” his father said.  “He was thinking of his sisters, how his sisters will be able to get about.  He said he loves me, he told his mother he loves her and he will try to be strong to help us cope.”

He said his son had told him he had acted on his own, and had spared “the kids who were the good kids so they can tell his story.”

Wichita KS Toddler Remembered

Child Abuse victim laid to rest

WICHITA, KS  –  A couple dozen people including family, friends and community members gathered at St Joseph’s Catholic Church, 145 S. Millwood Ave., Thursday morning to say their final goodbyes to two-year-old Tony Bunn.

.jpg photo of Kansas child killed by child abuse
Tony Bunn, 2-years-old

“Nobody knows how many times I’ve broken down and cried, I want to tell you something, there won’t be any doubt, you’re so wonderful to think about, but so hard to be without.”

Zak Woolheater doesn’t know the author of this poem, but it’s helped him put into words the pain his family feels at the loss of his grandson, Tony Bunn.

“He was the most amazing kid you’ll ever see,” Zak says.

First responders were called to Tony’s home on May 4.  Police say he wasn’t breathing.  He was hospitalized and died two days later.

An autopsy report showed he had blunt force trauma injuries.

The family’s attorney said Thursday was not only about Tony but about keeping other children safe and never having another child taken from abuse.

“We are still trying to figure out what all needs to be done, it’s certainly not just a DCF problem, and not just a law enforcement problem.  That is a systemic breakdown,” said Shayla Johnston, the Woolheater family’s attorney.

Tony was buried St. Mary’s Allepo Cemetery in Garden Plain.

His mother, Elizabeth Woolheater and her boyfriend, Lucas Diel, are charged with first-degree murder in his death.

They are set to be back in court next week.

PROTECT ALL CHILDREN

.jpg photo of Child Abuse Graphic
Be The Difference, Protect ALL Children From Child Predators.

End The Silence: a documentary to shine a light on Child Abuse on the eastern shore

SALISBURY, Md  –  It’s an ugly topic that is swept under the rug far too often, child sex abuse.  It’s a taboo subject both nationally and right here on the eastern shore.

Now a documentary, shot on the eastern shore by Urban Vision Works, is telling the stories of several eastern shore women.  Their tragedies, their hardships, and their triumphs.

End The Silence: a documentary

The statistics are shocking.  According to Victims of Crime, a website with national statistics on child abuse, one-in-five girls, and one-in-twenty boys, are victims of sexual abuse.

“These numbers are incorrect, the actual statistics are:  Child rape occurs every two minutes.  1 in 3 girls will be sexually molested before the age 17, and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually molested before the age 17 (1 in 5 in Canada).
A sex offender will molest an average of 120 victims, most of whom do not report it, and 90% of molesters abuse children they know.”
Robert StrongBow

“What we learned and what I personally learned is once you start talking about it, once you actually get somebody not to be hush-hush and quiet and talk about it then you realize they know somebody who knows somebody,” says Oasis, the executive producer of the documentary.

The idea for the documentary was born from Wanda Martin Palmer, the founder of #ProtectOurGirlsCampaign.

Wanda says she and her daughter were victimized by the same person, prompting her to create the campaign, which she now uses to give resources and information to other victims.

“She’s going to make sure that it goes to the highest level as it can possibly go,” says Javenna Smith Myrieckes, director of the film.

End The Silence, which centers around Palmer, brings out a series of emotions, from anger to sadness.

“A couple of the young ladies have such extreme experiences that what makes it difficult for them to go on is that some of the predators and violators are still in their family structure,” said Javenna.  “And then, I start to find out about their victories and their healing, and I actually start to get a little afraid. Because it’s a subject matter that not everyone wants to avoid and ignore.”

The hope is this film will accomplish its two main goals.  To show victims that there are ways to get the help they need, and to begin the conversation, a conversation long overdue.

“It’s not going to be the perfect discussion, it’s uncomfortable.  But it’s necessary,” said Javenna.

End The Silence will premiere at the Black Diamond Lounge in Fruitland on August 24, and again at the Senator Theater in Baltimore on August 30.

You can find out more information at endthesilencedocumentary.com.

Two Toddlers Die In Hot BabySitter

.jpg photo of vehicle where 2 toddlers died of heat stroke
Two Toddlers were found in an SUV in front of the home.

5-month-old twins die after being left in SUV

#HotVehicles Are Not #BabySitters

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, VA  –  The second of twin infants found unresponsive in a vehicle Thursday has died, according to police in Chesterfield County, Virginia.

The 5-month-old twins were found unresponsive around 2:30 p.m. in an SUV in the 2400 block of Alfalfa Lane near Jefferson Davis Highway, according to WTVR.

Police, along with Chesterfield County Fire and EMS responded to the scene and transported the children to Chippenham Hospital.

One of the children was pronounced dead at the hospital Thursday afternoon. The other child died several hours later.

The children, according to neighbors were a boy and a girl.

A woman who lives a few doors down defended the children’s parents through tears.

“They go to work, they come home to their kids.  They’re not any trouble, they’re awesome,” the woman, who declined to be identified, said.

“It’s tragic what happened, I don’t even know how to help them with their pain. It was certainly not an intentionally negligent act, it was a horrific mistake that can never be erased,” said another neighbor, Donna Gusti, who also works with both parents at a nearby Waffle House.

The woman who lives next door to the family said the wife was at work Thursday afternoon when she called her.

“His wife called me at 2 p.m. to wake him up to come and get her from work and that’s when everything happened,” the neighbor said.  “That’s when he found the babies in the car.”

She believes the husband just forgot the babies remained in the car when he got home from dropping his wife off at work.

Police continue to investigate the incident.