Heart Broken

Despite the mounting evidence of innocence, a convict remains in prison

There is still the possibility of parole for Harvey next year, but he's not sure he even wants that. As a convicted child molester, he would be required to post notices outside his residence, wear monitoring devices, stay 500 feet away from all children -- even relatives -- and participate in counseling that requires admitting that he is attracted to little girls. He says, "I can't see myself doing that."

Buckley says, "He feels like, 'I've given them everything else. I'm not going to give them my dignity.' "

Civil Service for Constables?

As seen in the June 5 issue
As seen in the June 5 issue

Employees fired by convicted former constable Perry Wooten may get their jobs back. At least Monroe Wilkerson Jr. says they've got a shot at returning if he gets elected as the next Precinct 7 constable.

Some of his workers had referred to Wooten as Idi Amin. "He came in with -- I always call it 'the old ghetto attitude,' and it's not something people were accustomed to having within that precinct," says Wilkerson, a deputy constable in another Harris County precinct.

In March, Wooten was convicted of theft by a public servant and sentenced to five years in prison and fined $1. The district attorney's office had discovered a time-sheet scam that netted employees almost $100,000. His second charge, abuse of official capacity, is scheduled for trial early next year.

In addition to many things Wooten did that constables don't normally do -- like requiring on-duty deputies to keep him company while he watched television -- Wooten also fired several employees. Wooten's attorneys argued that some of the allegations were no more than harmless problems of a newcomer to the office, and that Wooten himself didn't profit from the payroll scheme.

In 2002, former payroll clerk Kimmi Valentine and Sergeant Robert Casey filed a whistle-blower's suit saying Wooten fired them after they cooperated with the D.A. Wooten's former chief deputy later joined the suit (see "Screwed," June 5).

Wilkerson himself served as a past chief deputy constable for Precinct 7, before Wooten took office. He says other former employees may be rehired.

"I believe a lot of them were possibly very good people," Wilkerson says.

After Wooten's legal woes, the contest next year for the Precinct 7 constable's position is expected to attract several candidates. Wilkerson says he'll run on a campaign that includes working to get civil service protections for all constable employees.

"Not only Precinct 7," he says. "I'm going to do my best to get the other seven constables on my side." He wants to "keep people from being fired or terminated at will, without any real reason or justification," he says.

"They feel that there's no job security. You feel that your job is in jeopardy. In most cases that's true." -- Wendy Grossman

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