Owner Kathy Jack issues statement saying she’s ‘truly sorry’ for closure of Jack’s Backyard

This morning we received a statement from Kathy Jack, owner of Jack’s Backyard, regarding the recent closure of the lesbian-oriented Oak Cliff bar and grill. The statement, sent over by Kris Martin of Kris Martin Public Relations & Marketing, was apparently issued in response to our post detailing creditor Marla Custard’s side of the story earlier this week. As we said in the post, we tried unsuccessfully to get in touch with Jack.

In Jack’s statement, which we’ve posted in its entirety after the jump, she says she is “truly sorry that this happened” but adds, “There is so much misinformation and so many rumors.” Jack goes on to say that she never paid herself a salary during the 2½ years the venue was open, and that she believes she could have repaid her debts if she had been given the opportunity.

Here’s the full statement:

—  Rich Lopez

DA’s office confirms that charges have been dismissed or rejected in all 11 Club Dallas cases

The Dallas County District Attorney’s Office has now dismissed or rejected charges against all 11 of the men arrested in a controversial police raid at a gay bathhouse in October.

Jamille Bradfield, a spokeswoman for the DA’s office, confirmed today that 10 of the cases have been dismissed, while one was rejected and therefore will not be filed.

Bradfield said District Attorney Craig Watkins was out of the office and unavailable for comment. Bradfield said it’s possible that Watkins will be available for comment Thursday about why the DA’s office chose not to prosecute the cases.

Watkins previously has declined to discuss the matter because some of the cases were still pending.

Defense attorneys have said they believe the cases were dismissed over questions about whether the bathhouse, Club Dallas on Swiss Avenue in Deep Ellum, is considered a public place. Court documents say only that the cases were dismissed “in the interest of justice.”

Ten of the 11 men were charged with public lewdness or indecent exposure after undercover officers observed them engaging in various sex acts inside the business. An employee was charged with interfering with police after he refused to allow uniformed officers into the club to execute the arrests.

Dallas police have said they conducted the raid, the first of its kind in recent memory, in response to a citizen complaint. But police officials have declined to comment on whether they’ll conduct vice operations at Club Dallas or other gay bathhouses in the future, given that the DA’s office dismissed the cases.

“The Dallas Police Department recently learned that many of the charges involving activities at The Club Dallas in October 2010 were dismissed,” DPD said in a statement last month. “The department plans to meet with the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office as soon as possible regarding these cases. The purpose of the meeting is to determine the cause of the dismissals, and to determine what, if any, procedural changes may be needed. An update will be provided following the meeting.”

—  John Wright

BREAKING: Pearland teen beaten to death, body burned in possible anti-gay hate crime

Joshua Wilkerson

A man charged in the murder of a Pearland teen told authorities he beat the victim to death and burned his body after the victim made sexual advances toward him.

Hermilio Moralez, 19, was charged Thursday with murder in the death of Joshua Wilkerson, 18.

Wilkerson’s body was found Wednesday night in an overgrown field in Fort Bend County after a 24-hour search.

ABC 13 in Houston reports:

Authorities now say that Joshua Wilkerson, 18, was beaten with a large wooden rod and that his body was burned. Hermilio Moralez, 19, is charged with murder in Wilkerson’s death. According to court documents, Wilkerson gave Moralez a ride home from school Tuesday and Moralez stated that Wilkerson began to make sexual advances towards him. Moralez said they got out of the truck and began to fight when Wilkerson grabbed a large wooden rod and tried to hit him. Moralez said he took the piece of wood from Wilkerson and began to hit him with it. He said Wilkerson was not moving afterwards.

UPDATE: CLICK HERE TO READ THE PROBABLE CAUSE AFFIDAVIT

Hermilio Moralez

—  John Wright

Craigslist police blotter: Bryan pastor in gay sex scandal; Azle man faces charges over fake ad

While we’re on the subject of hookup site-related crime stories in Texas, we’ve got two more to tell you about.

One involves a 51-year-old closeted church pastor from Bryan who’s accused of meeting other men online and forcing them to have sex with him.

According to KBXT.com, Pastor George Randall Scott resigned from the Bethel Temple Church, where he had served since 1990, following his arrest last Tuesday.

In one case, Scott met his alleged victim on Craiglist and posed as a 17-year-old as they exchanged 12 e-mails over two days. Many of Scott’s e-mails came from a church computer:

Eventually the victim agreed to let Randy Scott come to his house but, “When the person showed up, it was an older man. The man told him that he was the stepfather of the person the victim had been emailing. The subject said that he is protective of his stepson and has set up his stepson’s email to forward him all of the emails that they have been exchanging. The victim said that the man told him that he is going to call the Police unless the victim pleasured him sexually,” court documents stated.

KBXT reports that Scott’s former congregation is “shocked but supportive.” From Stuart Quartemont, chairman of the Bethel Temple Church’s administrative board:

“On behalf of Bethel Temple we express our love, prayers and support for the Scott family. … One of the things the Lord has been sharing with us the last couple of day is we shouldn’t keep our eyes on circumstances but keep our eyes on Him and as we continue to focus on Him, He’ll take care off all the circumstances we go through.”

Our other Craiglist case was written up in The Dallas Morning News a few days back. It involves an Azle man who faces online harassment charges after posting a fake personal ad in the “men seeking men” section of the site.

The suspect, Clark Friesen, reportedly got in a heated e-mail dispute with the victim, Michael Martin, over a boat Martin had posted for sale. So Friesen posted the fake personal ad using Scott’s e-mail address, and as The DMN cleverly puts it, Martin “soon was hearing from dozens of men who were after more than his 20-foot Bayliner.”

“As soon as I’d hang up, it would ring again,” said Martin, who is married with a teenage stepdaughter. “I know if I ever go that direction, I won’t be lonely.”

He’s right, he won’t be lonely. He might just meet a pastor from Bryan.

—  John Wright

Thanks to our gay district clerk, you can now access Dallas County court files online

Gary Fitzsimmons

Dallas County District Clerk Gary Fitzsimmons sends word that public access to court records is now available online.

“Until now, only docket information has been available to the public on the Dallas County website,” said Fitzsimmons. “Now, pending documents in seven District Civil courts, eight Felony courts, all Family court documents from 2003 to present, and one County Court at Law can be viewed. Documents from the remaining courts will be available by the end of the year.”

“We now have now one digital County Court at Law,” said County Clerk John Warren.

Fitzsimmons has made technological innovation a priority in his administration. He began by implementing an e-filing system that delivers original petitions, motions and other court documents electronically.

He said his office ensured that sensitive information, especially documents involving children, remains secure.

“Other types of information may also be limited through the use of a redaction request form consistent with the law we have provided on our website,” Fitzsimmons said.

—  David Taffet

DART accused of transphobia

Judge reversed order after transit agency fought longtime employee’s gender-marker change last year

John Wright | News Editor
wright@dallasvoice.com

TRANS FRIENDLY? | Judge Lynn Cherry, right, is shown alongside drag performer Chanel during Stonewall Democrats’ 2008 holiday party at the Round-Up Saloon. A few months later, Cherry ruled against a transgender DART employee and overturned a gender-marker change. (John Wright/Dallas Voice)

DART stands accused of bigotry and transphobia after attorneys for the local transit agency intervened in family court last year to challenge a gender-marker change granted to an employee.

According to court records, a transgender DART employee obtained a court order in February 2009 directing all state agencies to correct their records by changing her gender-marker from male to female, including on her birth certificate.

As Dallas Voice reported last week, many Dallas County judges have been routinely granting gender-marker changes to transgender people who meet set criteria — including documentation from licensed medical personnel — since the Democratic sweep of 2006.

The DART employee, who’s name is being withheld to protect her anonymity, later presented the court order to the transit agency’s human resources department and requested that her personnel records be changed to reflect her new gender.

But DART’s attorneys objected to the gender-marker change and responded by filing a motion seeking a rehearing in court. DART’s objections prompted 301st Family District Court Judge Lynn Cherry to reverse her order granting the gender-marker change.

“Where does this stop when an employer can start interfering with your personal life and family law decisions?” said longtime local transgender activist Pamela Curry, a friend of the DART employee who brought the case to the attention of Dallas Voice. “She was devastated. This should be a serious concern to a lot of people — everybody — and I just think this story needs to be told.”

Judge Cherry, who received Stonewall Democrats of Dallas’ Pink Pump Award for her support of the group last year, didn’t respond to messages seeking comment this week.

Morgan Lyons, a spokesman for DART, noted that Cherry reversed her order before the agency actually filed its motion for a rehearing. However, Curry alleges that DART’s attorneys met with Cherry privately and pressured her into reversing the order.

As is common with gender-marker changes, the case file has been sealed, but Dallas Voice obtained copies of some of the court documents from Curry.

In their motion for a rehearing, DART attorneys Harold R. McKeever and Hyattye Simmons argued that Texas law grants registrars, not judges, the authority to amend birth certificates. They also argued that birth certificates could be amended only if they were inaccurate at the time of birth.

“It’s not a DART issue, it’s a point of law,” Lyons told Dallas Voice this week, in response to the allegations of bigotry. “The lawyers concluded that the birth certificate could not be altered by law, unless there was a mistake made when the birth certificate was completed, and again, the judge changed the order before we even wound up going into court with it.”

Asked about DART’s LGBT-related employment policies, Lyons said the agency’s nondiscrimination policy includes sexual orientation but not gender identity/expression. The agency, which is governed by representatives from Dallas and numerous suburbs, also doesn’t offer benefits to the domestic partners of employees.

Lyons didn’t respond to other allegations made by Curry, including that the agency has fought the employee’s transition from male to female at every step of the way.

Curry, who helped the employee file her pro se petition for a gender-marker change, said the employee has worked for DART for more than 20 years and has an outstanding performance record.

The employee began to come out as transgender in 2003 and had gender reassignment surgery more than three years ago, Curry said. Curry said DART supervisors have at various times told the employee that she couldn’t have long hair, couldn’t wear skirts to work and couldn’t use women’s restrooms at work.

The employee has responded by showing up at work in her uniform so she doesn’t have to change and using public restrooms on her bus route, Curry said.

Supervisors have also told the employee she can’t talk to the media and can’t join political groups, such as Stonewall Democrats, Curry said.

“She’s intimidated and she’s scared,” Curry said. “One supervisor even suggested to her that if she doesn’t lay off it, they will mess up her retirement.”

Elaine Mosher, a Dallas attorney who’s familiar with the case, also questioned why DART intervened. Mosher didn’t represent the employee in the case but has handled gender-marker changes for other clients.

Mosher said the employee’s gender doesn’t have any bearing on her ability to do her job at DART.

“My argument in any gender marker matter is, the birth certificate was wrong, that’s why they had to go through the transition surgery, in essence to put them in the correct gender,” Mosher said. “All I can tell you is that it seems strange to me that DART would care one way or another what the gender marker of anybody that works for them is.”

Moster added that she believes someone at DART may have been “freaked out” by the employee’s transition from male to female and developed a “vendetta” against her.

“I wish I had a good explanation for why [DART got involved] other than the fact that I know there are people out there who are utterly blind and prejudiced for no other reason than they are,” Mosher said. “I compare it to some of the nonsense African-Americans had to live through in the ’60s.”

Mosher also said she’s “very surprised” that Cherry reversed the order granting the gender marker change.

Erin Moore, president of Stonewall Democrats, said she’s heard “bits and pieces” of the story but isn’t sure of all the facts.

Moore said in response to her questions about the case, Cherry told her she couldn’t talk about it because it’s still within the timeframe for a possible appeal.

“Lynn is a longtime supporter of Stonewall and I would think she would be fair in the case,” Moore said. “I’m confident she’s an ally to this community.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 19, 2010.

—  admin