Polk County officials recused from case involving DA staff member
Polk County Enterprise, September 2007
BY VALERIE REDDELL
LIVINGSTON — Texas Rangers and the Liberty County District Attorney’s Office are probing an allegation that William Douglas Willis, an investigator with the Polk County District Attorney’s office, was involved in a family violence incident that occurred on the morning of Aug. 21 on FM 1988.
Documents on file in the Polk County District Clerk’s office show that a temporary protective order was signed by visiting judge Vann Culp to Katherine Siobon McGee, 19.
The order restrains her step-father, Willis, from going within 200 yards of McGee or a residence in Houston where she is currently living.
District Judge Elizabeth Coker signed an order Aug. 22 recusing Criminal District Attorney Lee Hon and all Polk County assistant district attorneys from any case involving Willis or his wife Brenda Willis since staff members work with Willis on a daily basis. Coker’s order names Liberty County District Attorney Michael Little as district attorney pro tem for this case.
Little said no charges have been filed in connection with the alleged incident as of Wednesday.
The temporary protective order stems from an affidavit signed by McGee saying that she attempted to move out of the Willis residence on Aug. 21. She left with her boyfriend and his mother and about five minutes later Willis initiated a traffic stop on that vehicle on FM 1988, the affidavit said.
McGee said her boyfriend complied with Willis’s request for his driver’s license and registration and she complied with his instructions to step to the back of the vehicle.
She adds she told Willis she would not return home with him, and he threatened to arrest her boyfriend for criminal trespassing.
McGee walked away from the vehicle when Willis began unloading her personal property, she said.
Willis allegedly chased her down, handcuffed her and put her in the front seat of his official vehicle, according to the affidavit.
Willis left the vehicle a short time later and a sheriff’s deputy and detective arrived, McGee said.
McGee said the deputy released her from the handcuffs and then replaced them loosely and she was moved to the deputy’s patrol car.
After Willis refused to let the deputy take McGee to her mother’s office, McGee said she was taken there by Willis with a deputy following.
McGee said she received medical care for bruising and a fractured wrist, possible nerve damage and swelling to her wrist in connection with the incident. She also claimed to have been physically restrained from leaving the home on or about Aug. 9.
Officials with the Texas Department of Public Safety said that a Texas Ranger not normally assigned to Polk County is investigating, but the department declined to make further comment.
District Attorney Lee Hon said Wednesday he has approved Willis’ request to use accrued leave he has on the books while he works out legal problems.
Hon said Willis has a good record since he joined the office September 2001.
Any other administrative decisions about Willis’ work status will not be made until the investigation is completed, Hon said.
“I have a lot of respect for Mike Little,” Hon said. “He is a fair prosecutor that will do what he thinks is the right thing to do.”
Hon verified that it is standard procedure for temporary protective orders to be issued at the request of the complaining party without any sort of response from the accused party.
The temporary order is just based on the sworn statement of the person seeking protection and we have to treat it seriously, Hon said. Ultimately the judge will determine if the circumstances of the case warrant a permanent protective order.