By Chris Lane
By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
When the Press contacted Beaumont ISD in August, spokeswoman Jolene Ortego said the district didn't even know the Koochie Kissing Klick existed until after Granger and Bell had been arrested. That might be the case, but a document obtained by the Press indicates the district had been aware for at least a year of Libby's allegations that she'd been sexually assaulted by a teacher at Ozen.
These allegations first surfaced two years ago, after Libby had been sentenced to the Texas Youth Commission for assaulting a female teacher on campus. All the records from the incident are sealed and the county isn't allowed to comment on the specifics of juvenile cases, but Libby and her attorney offered a limited version of the tale to the Press. It goes like this:
A teacher was shoving her from behind, so Libby threw her hands up and accidentally struck the teacher in the face. "She said that I just turned around and just punched her," says Libby. "And the type of person I am, and I don't mean to sound like I'm crazy, but I would've said, 'Yeah I hit her. She shouldn't have been pushing me.' But I was like, 'Man, I didn't hit that crazy woman,' you know, because I really didn't."
The jury didn't see it that way, and Libby was shipped off to juvie for a year.
As part of her rehabilitation, Libby had to tell her life story to a caseworker in 2004. And that's when she first disclosed what allegedly happened to her during her freshman year.
"So at that point, CPS is involved, the detectives are going and there's a contact with the school district in 2004," says Bittick, attorney for the Rose family. "And then we have several subsequent contacts that the family makes."
When Libby got out of TYC, she still needed a few credits for her high school diploma; she could've gotten the credits while in juvie, she says, but she wanted a "free-world diploma." In May 2005, Libby's mom, who was a teacher's assistant with the district, told Beth Fischenich, Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Schools, that Libby couldn't attend summer school at Ozen because she had been sexually molested by a teacher there, according to the lawsuit. Fischenich asked which teacher it was and then told Libby's mom not to worry, according to the lawsuit, because Granger wasn't teaching there that summer. No investigation ensued.
The Rose family further contends that some of Libby's credits wound up missing from her transcript, alleging this happened as retribution for Libby's assault on the female teacher.
The Press has obtained a copy of a letter, stamped "received" by the district on August 24, 2005, that indicates BISD was aware of Libby's accusations of sexual assault more than a year ago. The letter was penned by Libby's mom to Anita Watson, Director of Special Education, and discussed why she didn't want to work at Ozen: "due to my child being sexual [sic] assaulted by a teacher that is still employed by BISD and presently at Ozen." No investigation ensued.
The Beaumont ISD administration has declined to offer comment to the Press now that it has been sued, although the district did respond to a request, under the Texas Public Information Act, for basic information about Tommy Granger's employment. Granger had worked as a district aide for seven years before he was arrested. During that time, he never had a teaching certificate, but that's not required to supervise the Special Assignments Class where he and Libby allegedly used to pass notes.
The Press cornered a couple of trustees at a recent school board meeting and managed to speak briefly with Vice President Woodrow Reece about teachers mixing with students at Ozen.
"Things happen at all schools," he says. "It happens in all school districts. And the limelight seems to fall upon Ozen at this moment."
But "we do not tolerate that and we will not tolerate it. We try to give a person the opportunity to do their job, but once they get out of hand, they will be removed from the school district and the authorities are in control after that."
In the movie North Country, a fictionalized account of a landmark sexual harassment case, Woody Harrelson plays a lawyer who sums up what a lot of people think when a woman accuses a man of violating her: "It's the nuts or sluts defense -- you're either crazy, or you deserved it."
Even though Libby was only 14 years old at the time of her alleged sexual assault, that attitude seems to pervade the city of Beaumont. Last month the Press sent MySpace messages to more than 100 girls whose profiles indicated they went to Ozen at the same time as Libby, asking them if they knew anything about 3K and Granger. Some of the responses we received weren't too sympathetic -- at least not to Libby.
Here are selections from a few, cleaned up for grammar and spelling:
"[Granger] was a great influence to all the students at Ozen and it's impossible for people even to think he did that... I've asked many teachers and they said that the girl, when she was at Ozen, was crazy and a liar."