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Lawsuit Against Abilene Sheriff is Upheld

Nov 2nd, 2010 | Category: Legal Issues & Jails, Taylor County

Forced to Give Birth in Taylor County Jail CellPress Release from Taylor County Juvenile Justice Center
Abilene, Texas, November 1, 2010:

The Honorable Sam R. Cummings, an Article III federal judge, refused to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Lance Hunter Voorhees, a former volunteer chaplain for the Taylor County Detention Center.
Sheriff Bruce’s challenge of the federal court’s lack of subject matter jurisdiction was denied as well as his challenge that Voorhees’ suit failed “to state a claim.” In his denial to dismiss, Judge Cummings wrote, “a motion to dismiss an action for failure to state a claim ‘admits the facts alleged in the complaint, but challenges the plaintiff’s right to relief based on those facts.’”

Voorhees’ suit alleges that Sheriff Bruce revoked Voorhees status as a chaplain and thwarted his efforts to visit inmates even as a private citizen in retaliation for Voorhees’ criticism of inmate treatment, which included beatings, torture and drug dealing at the hands of a small group of Taylor County correctional officers. One of the officers, Matthew Vann, was indicted by a Taylor County grand jury and convicted of bringing drugs into the jail. Vann was subsequently sentenced to 30 days in jail and ten years probation. Two inmates overdosed as a result of the drugs but Vann was only indicted in one of the cases. Vann was not charged with supplying drugs to inmate Westley Freeman, who was sentenced to ten years for trying to escape while being treated at Hendrick Medical Center for his second overdose on drugs supplied through Vann within the same week. Voorhees believes that Freeman had been previously beaten and tortured by officers in the jail, other than Officer Vann. Voorhees stated that the District Attorney who prosecuted the case claims nobody told him about Freeman’s two overdoses and the resulting ten year sentence.

Voorhees’ privilege to visit as a private citizen was reinstated by Sheriff Les Bruce later in the same week the federal lawsuit was filed. Voorhees continues to serve as a chaplain at the Taylor County Juvenile Justice Center where he has continued to serve without complaint for approximately nine years.
See timeline of drug deals below:

5/17/09 – Inmate Curtis Proctor overdoses on a portion of 30 dihydrocodeineone pills sold to him by Taylor County Correctional Officer Matthew Vann for $1500, with $700 being made as a down payment with the rest to be paid by check. Vann is later convicted of the crime on 9/2/10.

5/22/09 & 5/28/09 – Inmate Westley Freeman overdoses on pills he alleges were supplied to him by Officer Vann and delivered by Officer Hernandez (never indicted). (Hendrick medical records of both overdoses available upon request.

5/28/09 – Inmate Freeman again overdoses on pills allegedly supplied by Officer Vann. The specific date of when Freeman received the drugs is not clear, but it was before Vann was taken into custody by Taylor County narcotics agents.
Contact: Lance H. Voorhees
Phone 325-829-5661

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