Friday, September 21, 2012

Hite In Hot Water Over Letter Written To Aid Sex Offender

As Mayor Greg Ballard headed out of town today on another 10-day junket to Australia, his interim police chief, Rick Hite, found himself in hot water for penning a letter of support to a Marion County judge on behalf of a sex offender with close ties to the Ballard administration who had violated the terms of his probation. Byron Alston, a youth minister for the Ten Point Coalition, landed in criminal trouble after engaging in sexual misconduct with women he was interviewing for jobs funded by a crime prevention grant Alston's organization received from the Ballard administration. Two women had accused Alston of exposing his genitals and offering them jobs at the organization in exchange for sex in separate incidents in June and August 2009. Alton pleaded guilty to confinement and habitual offender harges in 2010 after he made unwanted sexual advances toward young women interviewing for jobs with the Save The Youth program.

Indianapolis police officers are barred from testifying in any court case, civil or criminal, except as required by law. Yet Hite penned a letter of support for Alston to a Marion County criminal court judge after he was ordered to appear on charges of violating the terms of his probation. According to the Star, the letter Hite wrote on his city letterhead read, in part:

"[Alston] has become a successful outreach worker with Ten Point and is called upon by both community and law enforcement."
"He is a valuable 'asset' in our efforts to rid our city of violent crime, through his street knowledge and willingness to provide crisis intervention mediation and counseling on the streets of Indianapolis," Hite wrote in the three-paragraph letter. It was addressed "To Whom It May Concern."

FOP President Bill Owensby told the Star that police officers would be subject to discipline if they had written a letter in support of a probation offender as Chief Hite did, unless they have been given express permission by the chief to do so. "We’ve got a victim of a sexual crime who is dependent on the city to protect and prosecute," Owensby said. "Now the city is defending and essentially coming out in support of a criminal suspect. The community has let down the victim." The Star story notes that Alston had previously served time in the past for sexual battery, confinement and armed robbery before he became a youth minister. Judge Annie Christ-Garcia let Alston off with a slap on the hand for violating the terms of his probation, but she would not comment to the Star on whether Hite's letter made a difference.

The 49-year old Alston was in front of Judge Christ-Garcia for failing to attend court-ordered sex offender counseling sessions and being behind in paying counseling fees and court costs. Questions last year were raised about whether Alston had violated the terms of his probation by attending a Ten Point Coalition meeting at a local church at which Mayor Greg Ballard and former Public Safety Director Frank Straub were in attendance and an event on that same day with the Rev. Al Sharpton. Alston had been placed on home detention at the time and was wearing an ankle bracelet that tracked his whereabouts. "I'm a little embarrassed and disappointed that he didn't let us know," Deputy Mayor for Neighborhoods Olgen Williams told WRTV. "He probably wouldn't have been allowed into the church had we known" about the plea, said the Rev. Charles Harrison, president of the Ten Point Coalition. "I'm saddened that Byron has placed himself in this situation. He's done some good things for this community, but for him to get himself into this kind of situation, is disappointing to a lot of people."


CircleCityScribe said...

This is the most inappropriate thing I have heard of: An Interim Chief of Police writing a character reference for a sex offender!

This guy needs to go back to the East Coast with crony Ellen "Here's the Car Keys" Corcella post haste!

Marycatherine Barton said...

The Fraternal Order of Police head, Bill Owensby's quoted statement to the newspaper, criticizing the present chief of police in support of the public, is very much appreciated. I wish that Mayor Ballard would respond.