Must be changed to simple assault before case can move forward

Mauricio Julian Cuellar Jr., Alice Echo-News Journal

Alice City Attorney Joe Torres said Wednesday former Jim Wells County sheriff's deputy Vicky Puente will have to refile her sexual harassment complaint with the Alice Police Department as a simple assault complaint, in order for the case to move forward in Municipal Court.

Former Jim Wells County Deputy Vicky Puente filed a sexual harassment complaint with the Alice Police Department on Oct. 16 stemming from an alleged incident which took place at the JWC Sheriff's Department in August.

In her written statement to APD, Puente said that while employed with the JWC sheriff's office, she was the victim of sexual harassment.

She alleges that Alice High School COPS in Schools Deputy Jason Childers "slapped her butt," Puente said in the complaint.

A witness of the incident, former deputy Mark Martinez, was also named in the complaint.

Both Puente and Martinez resigned in September, following an investigation into a departmental policy issue.

Puente said she resigned from the department due to health issues, and had received no notice as to the outcome of the investigation.

She claims no wrongdoing on her part. Martinez has not commented on his resignation.

Childers, who was named in the complaint, said he is not allowed to comment on the case because of department policy.

Torres said if the case is resubmitted as a simple assault, Childers could be subpoenaed to come in to municipal court. A letter will be sent to Puente, Torres said, notifying her that she would have to come in and re-sign in order for the case to move forward.

The Alice Echo-News Journal is still awaiting a Attorney General's opinion on the original sexual harassment complaint Puente filed with the Jim Wells County Sheriff's Department prior to her resignation.

Sheriff's Department Attorney Myra Morris said Puente's complaint and any written statements by sheriff's deputies used in the investigation of Puente and Martinez are exempt from disclosure, based on 552.101 and 552.103 of the Texas Government Code.

The first possible exemption deals with information that could be deemed confidential by constitutional, statutory or by judicial decision. The second exemption applies to information that could be used for possible litigation or settlement negotiations involving the state or a political subdivision.