A&M Assault Case and Abortion Super Center?

Highlights from the Blog at HOUSTONPRESS.COM

COURTS, CRIME

A&M Assault Case Moves Ahead
Trial date set, raising hopes of victim's family

By Paul Knight

A judge in Brazos County set a date — June 21, 2010 — for trial in the case of a Texas A&M student who was allegedly assaulted by two members of the Corps of Cadets, an incident the Houston Press wrote about in a January 2008 cover story, "Rotten to the Corps."

The court date might not seem like much of a milestone, but it wasn't too long ago that the student who was allegedly assaulted, and his family, thought that the case would never be heard by a jury.

"It makes me feel a little more confident about what's taken place," Zach Corcoran, the student who was allegedly assaulted, tells Hair Balls. "I'm glad we got a court date, and I'm glad we're finally going to get our trial. Right now it's just kind of a waiting game."

The whole ordeal started in 2005, when Corcoran was at another student's apartment and got into a fight with the two Corps members. Corcoran says he was pinned on a couch by one cadet while the other punched him repeatedly. He was hit until the left side of his face caved in.

Texas A&M University investigated the fight and held hearings on the incident. The two cadets — Eddie Helle and Steven Ramirez — were suspended from the university and kicked out of the Corps. They were also ordered to make an effort to pay Corcoran's medical bills, which had reached about $60,000. All those sanctions were later dismissed, and university officials stayed quiet about why.

In the criminal case, Helle and Ramirez were indicted on misdemeanor assault charges, but about a week before the trial started, the county attorney in Brazos, Jim Kuboviak, dismissed the charges against the cadets. His reasoning, according to court documents, was "In the interest of justice."

The Corcoran family, which turned down a deal to have Zach's medical bills paid so the case could go to trial, thought that was the end. But in fall of 2008, after learning that the statute of limitations hadn't expired, the family mailed packets of information to each member of the grand jury in Brazos County that it could find.

The grand jury returned felony assault indictments in September 2008.

So more than another year has passed before any movement in the case. The district attorney in Brazos County recused himself from prosecuting Helle and Ramirez, and Tuck McClain, the district attorney in neighboring Grimes County, was brought in as a special prosecutor.

"They can all say what they want to, but I'd bet half my net worth that it all goes back to A&M. There was no justification for [the university's] actions except that they were protecting their image," Zach's father John Corcoran says about the reason the cadets weren't punished the first time around. "If there's a plea of guilty, it pretty much says that A&M was full of shit on what it did."

Jim James, a College Station defense attorney representing Helle, could not be reached for comment.
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POLITICAL ANIMALS

Protests for an "Abortion Super Center"
New Houston Planned Parenthood HQ targeted

By Richard Connelly

Planned Parenthood of Houston is moving into that office building on I-45 near UH that looks like a cash register, and it looks like the protests will follow them.

The Drudge Report linked to a right-wing news service's story decrying the new building as an "abortion super center." Big protests are planned January 18, the story says.

Planned Parenthood is renovating a former bank, turning it into a 78,000 square foot facility that will include a surgical wing equipped to provide late-term abortions.

"It's an abortion super center," Lou Engle, founder of the pro-life group The Call to Conscience, which is organizing the rally, told CNSNews.com.

Joining Engle at the "prayer march" will be Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, and Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference. Religious leaders expected to attend include Bishop Harry Jackson, senior pastor of Hope Christian Church; Richard Land, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention; Star Parker, president of the Coalition for Urban Renewal and Education; and Abby Johnson, the former director of a Planned Parenthood clinic.

An "abortion super center"? Does it offer a lot of hors d'oeuvres in the aisles? Are the prices cheaper because you're buying bulk?

Engle quotes Martin Luther King Jr.and notes that the building is near a minority neighborhood.

"Engle said he believes the clinic was strategically located in a part of Houston that is surrounded by black and Hispanic neighborhoods.

'We want to say that it's not right to have an abortion super center that targets the minority community,' Engle said. He says Planned Parenthood actively markets its services, including abortion, to low-income, minority women."

The building itself is pretty much isolated from the neighborhood, but any old rhetorical device in a storm, we guess.

Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Rochelle Tafolla says the protests are "nothing new...it's just at a new place."

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