By Sean Pendergast
By Sean Pendergast
By Jeff Balke
By Richard Connelly
By Jeff Balke
By Casey Michel
By Craig Hlavaty
By Jeff Balke
An alternate interpretation of this testimony, of course, is that Gary Gates agrees with those who agree with him, and views those who don't as his enemies.
The court records show a CPS knocked on its heels by Gary Gates's counterattack, and the very fact that the file is open for public perusal at the Fort Bend County Courthouse is evidence of his savvy maneuvering.
Judge Stansbury ordered the file opened at least partly at the suggestion of CPS, who had a dual purpose in the request. CPS, assaulted by Gary Gates's publicity campaign, and bound by its own confidentiality rules, had no way to respond to his accusations aside from its own affidavit. And CPS also wanted access to the file's court-ordered psychological evaluation of the Gates family by the CPS-recommended clinical psychologist Dr. Jay Bevan. Gary Gates had, slyly, filed a motion to suppress the evaluation on the grounds that it might incriminate him, and CPS hoped to find further ammunition in its pages. The agency was not expecting to find a report that concluded, as Bevan's did, with this statement: "I have never said this about anyone I have ever evaluated: I admire the Gates. I would not hesitate to place my own children in their care."
Among the 95 papers filed in two fat folders are Gary Gates's original denial of the CPS charges, and shortly afterward, a motion for sanctions against CPS for bringing a frivolous lawsuit. A month later, the Fort Bend D.A. representing CPS withdrew from the case. In August, the attorney for Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services, which oversees CPS, filed her own motion to withdraw, and later that month the children's court-appointed attorney ad litem did the same, complaining that "Movants are unable to perform their duties to protect the children in the face of the total lack of cooperation from the children's parents."
This last was apparently in reference to an "Irrevocable Settlement Agreement" signed by all parties back in March ordering Dr. Bevan's psych evaluation and designating Pastor Bower as mediator between the Gates children and CPS. Gary Gates interpreted the agreement to mean that CPS would have no further direct access to his children, and so there has not been. CPS interpreted no such thing, and further mediation on the issue is scheduled.
In the meantime, though, CPS's case suffered blows at every turn. Not only did Dr. Bevan's evaluation exonerate the Gateses, but another court-ordered social study of the family -- the fourth such in eight years -- concluded that "at this time, this family needs to be free from the fear that, at any given moment, the life they have developed together (with God's help) through mutual respect and love for each other, could be shattered once again.Therefore it is recommended that no further court-mandated services are needed for the Gates family at this time.Hopefully, [CPS] will determine that taking action to close the Gates' active file at this time, will be in the best interest of the entire family."
Even a late-August report by Child Advocates' own caseworker supervisor recommended that the case be dismissed, though the report refused to go so far as to clear the Gateses of suspicion, basing its recommendation instead on the Gateses' "unprecedented resistance."
"Although [Child Advocates] would have preferred Dr. Bevan's report to be more inclusive in terms of material reviewed and persons interviewed, [Child Advocates] doubts at this point that Dr. Bevan would alter his recommendation to dismiss the case. He believes "The Gates have no need for CPS or [Child Advocates'] services.' Whether this statement is true or not, we unfortunately do not really know. So many questions remain unanswered. Nevertheless, [Child Advocates] does not believe that prolonging this case will benefit the Gates children. In these very unusual circumstances, where [Child Advocates] is now perceived as one of the "Bad Guys,' the Gates children can best be served by leaving them alone."
What will it take, Gary Gates wants to know, to get these people off his back?
The last time Gary Gates invited me to his home was a Sunday, for church and lunch. I arrived at 8 a.m. and was met at the door by Will and the family's heeler mutt, Chili. Gary was still out on his morning run, and when Will walked me inside, Melissa was upstairs getting kids ready for church, and the living room was full of more children. Marcus jumped across my lap and asked for help lacing his shoe. Lexie flipped through my notepad and pointed to the top of a page with a name and phone number jotted on it. She looked up at me and read the letters: "CPS?"
Ten minutes later Gary jogged up the driveway, said hello, and then went upstairs to change. If either parent had any hesitation about leaving their children alone in the presence of a reporter, there was nothing to show it.
A few minutes later we piled into two cars -- boys in the Suburban with Gary, girls in a minivan with Melissa -- and drove out of the neighborhood and across the highway to Grace Community Bible Church, which is within reasonable walking distance of the Gates home, and where the simple presence of the Gates children spiked the congregation's racial diversity curve.
Find everything you're looking for in your city
Find the best happy hour deals in your city
Get today's exclusive deals at savings of anywhere from 50-90%
Check out the hottest list of places and things to do around your city