By Chris Lane
By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
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By Craig Malisow
Serges kept out of trouble throughout high school and graduated from the University of Houston-Downtown in 1995 with a degree in criminal justice. He wanted to apply immediately for the police force, but instead he took a job as an officer at a Harris County juvenile detention center. Serges says he put his dream on hold to appease his mother, who was terrified her son would get shot if he joined the police.
Serges worked there for five years, but the desire to be a street cop still burned inside him. Again, to satisfy his mother, Serges decided take it slowly. First, he took a job as an officer for the University of Texas at the Medical Center, and then, five years later, was hired as a deputy to patrol the streets of Precinct 4 in north Harris County.
When Serges signed on with the constable, he had a friend already there. Deputy Kendall Guillory had worked with Serges at the juvenile detention center and was excited that his buddy had been hired.
"He's a great guy to work with," says Guillory. "He's a hard worker and you want him in your corner. He's honest, respectful, churchgoing and he'll tell it like it is. Plus he really knows the law. Whenever I get to work with someone, I always chose him."
Serges says he loved his job and that he did it well. He claims the only blemish on his record during his time at Precinct 4 was a reprimand for working an off-duty security job without authorization. He says he was suspended for one day.
Serges remembers that he had the day off when he was arrested. He says he was relaxing at home when the phone rang and a superior told him there was a complaint against him and another officer concerning a domestic dispute they attended to a few nights earlier. Apparently, Serges needed to come to the office. Serges called the other officer to see what this was all about, but he told Serges that he hadn't received any phone call and had no idea what was going on. Confused, Serges drove to work.
When he arrived, his fellow deputies were waiting for him with handcuffs. A grand jury had just indicted Serges, and he was going to jail.
The allegations that Serges sexually assaulted a girl in the county detention center's shower came on the heels of a nationally televised newscast that juvenile inmates were being sexually abused throughout the state-run juvenile prison system, the Texas Youth Commission. Serges's accuser was claiming that Serges, a male guard, was assigned to her female unit in the county detention center, and that he worked the morning shift. She claimed that Serges raped her late one morning in the shower and then afterwards watched several other girls take showers.
During the trial, Serges says, his attorney tore apart the girl's story. He says he never worked in the morning, only the night shift from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m., and that male guards were never assigned to watch over women. Serges maintains he had never seen or even heard the name of his accuser before being indicted.
The attack in the shower was just as implausible, says Serges. The showers are wide open and located in the hallways, so there is never any privacy. And the time of day the supposed rape took place didn't make any sense; the girls never showered before noon, as Serges's accuser claimed. It came out in court, Serges says, that the girl admitted that her father pressured her to make the complaint.
Jury foreman Gower Talley, a business consultant who now lives in the Pacific Northwest, says the DA's case was a sham.
"When the prosecution laid out the specific mechanics of what was supposed to have happened at the detention center," says Talley, "it was improbable to the extreme and borderline impossible. We're not talking, 'Did he do it?' We're talking about whether it's physically possible within that facility to do what he was accused of. It would have required multiple people being proactively complicit for the scenario to even be possible. Some of the accusations were demonstrably false. It was obscene."
Talley says the jury deliberated for close to six hours, but that was because two jurors, who were mothers, wanted to go through all the evidence several times before casting their final vote.
"The entire prosecution was designed to be completely emotional," says Talley. "It was based on, 'Let's discuss how horrible a crime child rape is,' and then point the finger at this guy. There was nothing in terms of, 'Here is the evidence that this person did this.' A few of us talked after the fact how it was literally scary that you could get indicted on no more than what they showed us."
Serges says the second trial went very much the same way, leading to another acquittal.
"Before I went through all of this," he says, "I was like everybody else, and as soon as you hear the phrase 'sexual assault,' you go, 'Oh my God!' It doesn't sound good. That's human nature. But what about the victims of false allegations? The girl was never prosecuted. But I lost my reputation and my job and can't get them back."