Trinity County family's lawsuit alleges constable violated their son's rights

Trinity County family's lawsuit alleges constable violated their son's rights

TRINITY COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - A Trinity County couple has filed a lawsuit against Constable Woody Wallace in one of the county's district courts.

Among other things, the lawsuit alleges that Wallace, who is running for Trinity County sheriff, violated their son's constitutional rights by allegedly searching the boy for drugs at a Trinity High School football game in August 2011, performing an eye dilation test, and detaining the child "without probable cause."

"Wallace's actions violated plaintiff's clearly established rights under the U.S. and State of Texas constitutions respectively against unreasonable searches and violation of due process rights," the lawsuit's petition states.

"This is a frivolous lawsuit in an attempt to influence the election," Wallace said. "These people have been saying for several months that if I run for sheriff and it looks like I'm going to win, then they would file the lawsuit."

Steve and Crissy Stephens are seeking unspecified damages for their son's past and future private education expenses, emotional and mental trauma, pain and suffering, legal fees associated with appealing Trinity ISD's "erroneous ruling," and court costs.

The petition states the couple's son was 11-years-old when the alleged incident occurred in August 2011. Wallace allegedly approached the boy and his grandfather when they were leaving a football game and accused the child of making a drug purchase.

"Despite (the son's) protestations of innocence and the grandfather's objections to Wallace's conduct, Wallace, with probable cause, searched (the son), performed an eye dilation test, and unlawfully detained and questioned the minor child," the petition states.

Later that month, the couple received a call from Trinity Intermediate School which informed them that their son was being suspended from school for his involvement in an alleged drug transaction that occurred at the football game, the lawsuit alleges.

The lawsuit states that Wallace had contacted Trinity ISD's superintendent about the alleged drug deal at the football game despite the facts that the son was never arrested, arrested, or referred to juvenile authorities about the alleged delinquent conduct. In addition, no drugs were found on the boy, and he wasn't found to be under the influence of any illegal substances, according to the petition.

Even though the parents exhausted their administrative remedies with the school, their son was still referred to the Disciplinary Alternative Education Program for committing a Level IV violation of the school's Student Code of Conduct, the petition states.

The couple also claims that Wallace harassed the family in and around Trinity County during the appeals process.

"Wallace's actions were intentional and engaged in for the sole purpose of harassing plaintiffs, causing them unnecessary time, expense, emotional and mental anguish, and damage to their son's education," the petition states.

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