The wife of a federal prosecutor formerly based in Houston has accused Montgomery County Sheriff's deputies of beating her so severely she suffered permanent brain damage, while the County Attorney says her husband is the one who beat her, and the couple conspired to cover up domestic abuse by blaming everyone else but a vicious wife-beater.
The claims stem from the 2010 arrest of Jenny Roberts, wife of U.S. Attorney Tony Roberts, outside a Montgomery County bar called Tailgators. In an amended federal complaint filed last September, Jenny Roberts accused deputies Biff Knight and Scott Carson of approaching her while she sat in her car outside the bar, where "she was taking no action which constituted a criminal act." (By the way, the Roberts family moved to Honolulu -- where Tony took a job in that U.S. Attorney's Office -- shortly after the incident.)
Without stating an ostensible reason, the lawsuit claims that the deputies "pulled Plaintiff from her vehicle and, after dragging her away from the view of a surveillance video camera, slammed her head into the concrete, thereby causing Plaintiff permanent brain damage."
Jenny was taken to Montgomery County Jail and charged with resisting arrest, but the charge was subsequently dropped. Her husband was out of town that night, and a friend of the family posted bond.
The lawsuit accuses Montgomery County Sheriff Tommy Gage of running a bad department, with deputies like Knight and Carson, who allegedly have a history of excessive force. She also claims Gage green-lighted an internal affairs investigation that was only interested in confirming the deputies' version of events.
But here's what the counterclaim, filed by Montgomery County Assistant Attorney Daniel Plake on behalf of the deputies and Sheriff Gage, alleges: As soon as Tony Roberts got back in town, he used his position as federal prosecutor to interrogate witnesses, and he didn't like what he was told. According to the counterclaim, a bar employee and witness told Tony that Jenny "had only been served three drinks by the bar but had gone table to table drinking and making a spectacle of herself," that she "had offered sexual services to bar employees, patrons and one of the officers" and that when the deputies found her, "she did not have her shoes, panties or bra on, and her shirt was inside out." Oh, and the witness also alleged that Jenny "had left the bar with another man."
The counterclaim also alleges that Tony told a bar employee and witness that his wife "had been diagnosed with compulsive disorder and was incapable of drinking in moderation" and that "this was not the first time" she behaved in the way the witness described.
Plake also alleges that "Tony Roberts has a history of being violent against his wife when he believes she has been unfaithful. After questioning the bar personnel and learning facts that made Tony Roberts believe his wife had been unfaithful, Tony Roberts caused injury to his wife by physical violence. Tony and Jenny Roberts then conspired and collaborated to blame the injuries on Deputies Knight and Carson."
Also, per the suit: "Tony and Jenny Roberts have had prior problems of violence between them. Jenny Roberts has gone to jail for assaulting Tony Roberts. On one occasion prior to Jenny Roberts' arrest, the police were called to the Roberts' residence. Jenny Roberts told the police that Tony Roberts had picked her up and threw her down on the head. Tony Roberts told the police that he and his wife argued because she received a gift from another man; a man with whom Tony Roberts believed his wife was having an affair. Tony Roberts also stated that his wife charged at him, he pushed her away, and she slipped causing her to hit her head."
That allegation is reflected in a January 2009 Montgomery County Sheriff's Office incident report, in which a deputy noted a fight over a purse, but stated that no injuries were observed and that alcohol did not seem to be a factor. No charges were filed. The deputy also noted that Jenny Roberts had gone to jail approximately six years earlier, in Midland, for assault, but that charges were later dropped. (The name of the person she assaulted was redacted, but in the context of the report, it appears to be Tony Roberts.)
Both Jenny and Tony threatened the livelihoods of the deputies involved, and Tony intimidated witnesses and led them to believe that he was conducting an official investigation, according to the suit.
Attorneys for all parties have kept tight lips. Since we think it's kind of a big deal for a county attorney to accuse a federal prosecutor of being a wife-beater and criminal conspirator, we had hoped Plake would be able to back up such assertions with evidence. Instead, he told us to file the public records request that ultimately yielded the somewhat opaque results. We think this is, in a word, irresponsible, since this is not some petty he-said/she-said civil squabble -- this is a serious case where public servants have been accused of despicable acts of violence and violations of office, and that's something the public has a stake in.
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We didn't get much out of Tony's attorney, Tim Johnson, who said he didn't know much about the information contained in the previous incident reports, and that he's not concerned with Jenny's credibility, because she's not his client. Really?
Nor did we get much from Jenny's attorney, Edwin Wright III, who declined to share the medical records that supposedly prove that Jenny suffered permanent brain damage. He told us to ask Plake for those. So, really, is there any definitive proof of such extensive injuries?
This whole thing leaves a bad taste in our mouth. The public deserves to know if we've got some rotten cops or a rotten federal prosecutor. We sought comment from the Houston U.S. Attorney's Office, but their public information officer is out of the office. Hopefully we can get a comment in the future -- if a county attorney has accused one of their prosecutors of such criminal acts, wouldn't they want to look into it? Or is this just some backwoods pissing contest that we're not really supposed to care about?
Well, we care, because right now something about this case stinks. And we aim to find out what it is.