Animal House at HHS and is HPD Guilty of Elder Abuse?

Highlights from the Blog at HOUSTONPRESS.COM

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Animal House at Humane Society
Women call director a sexual harasser

By Craig Malisow

In the wake of a sexual harassment lawsuit against Houston Humane Society Shelter Director Edward Perez, former HHS employees have told Hair Balls they were driven to quit because of Perez's verbally assaultive behavior, condoned by Executive Director Sherry Ferguson and at least one board member.

Describing Perez's physical stature and their fear of him, the former employees said they would only speak if their names weren't used. In the last year, the HHS has lost two public-relations employees, several receptionists, two high-profile animal cruelty investigators, a clinic director and several intake employees. (Just a note on the physical stature thing: Perez is a big dude, and he's a reserve deputy with Constable Victor Trevino's Precinct 6, which means he carries a gun. However, since the lawsuit was filed in October, Perez has been placed on suspension in the precinct.)

Most of the former employees who spoke to Hair Balls were women, and they described Perez as a man allowed by Ferguson to indulge in sexually demeaning jokes and behavior like calling employees "stupid" and throwing a clipboard at an employee during a staff meeting. Some complained of being followed by Perez after work and of being pressured to accompany him to long "lunch hours" at various strip clubs. This behavior, per the former employees, was brushed aside by Ferguson as "that's just how Edward is."

After first agreeing to answer questions about these allegations, Ferguson and Perez declined to return phone calls. After speaking with the nonprofit's lawyer, Philip McDaniel, Ferguson gave an e-mailed statement denying the allegations in the October 30 lawsuit against Perez.

We wondered how the HHS's board members felt about these allegations, and about the exodus of talented, dedicated employees. And we're still wondering, because none of them but one would speak to us.

Being a board member of a nonprofit is a good gig, especially if you're a socialite or someone who doesn't like actual "work." The great thing about being on the board of something like the Houston Humane Society is that you can put it on a résumé or in some PaperCity-esque blowjob puff piece, but you don't actually have to take any responsibility once a bunch of employees start leaving because they tend not to like being called "bitch" and having a high-ranking employee reduce them to tits and ass while they're trying to rescue animals.
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Did HPD Beat Elderly Woman?

By Chris Vogel

It was a steamy hot day in mid-August when 79-year-old Tillion Thomas was driving home after a church function. Suddenly, she saw police lights in her mirror. A cop was pulling her over for allegedly speeding.

It was, however, anything but a routine traffic stop, claims Thomas. The retired schoolteacher is suing the City of Houston and its police department in Houston federal court for violating her civil rights, claiming that the cop beat up and hospitalized her.

"It's a blatant case of excessive force and police brutality," Thomas's attorney, Jason Gibson, tells Hair Balls. "I have no idea what the officer was thinking. I don't know what someone her age could do to make an officer fear for his life in such a way that he would apply that much force."

Thomas says that the officer pulled her over on Cullen and then made the senior citizen drive down a dark gravel side-street. There, the officer asked to see Thomas's ID.

And that's when things ­began to go bad,says Thomas.

According to the lawsuit:

As Thomas was pulling her license out of her wallet, [the officer] snatched the wallet and threw it to the ground. [The officer] proceeded to jerk Thomas by her left hand, placed Thomas in handcuffs and kicked her in the back of the leg, causing her to fall to the ground. [The officer] violently drug Thomas across the gravel road and jammed his knee into both her neck and chest, causing severe pain and trauma to Thomas.

Thomas was ordered to get up, but she could not because she was still pinned to the ground under [the officer]. Thomas was again drug across the gravel road and thrown to the floor of [the officer's] police cruiser, where she was taken to the police station. Thomas was physically unable to get out of the cruiser or enter the station by herself and had to be carried.

Afterward, says Gibson, Thomas's pants had holes in the knees from her being dragged across the gravel. But that was the least of the damage. At the police station, Thomas claims, officers took pictures of her wounds and then drove her to the hospital, where she received care for injuries to her back, neck and chest.

From there, the police drove Thomas back to the station, where they charged her with resisting arrest. Gibson says the charge has since been dismissed.

Gibson believes the attack on Thomas, an African-American, was racially motivated. "She was coming home from church in a new Mercedes," he says. "To me, it seems like it's got to be a pure racial situation."

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