by BRAD ROLLINS
A visiting judge on Monday dismissed sexual and physical abuse charges against former district attorney candidate Paul C. Velte IV after the accuser, his 16-year-old stepdaughter, said she didn’t want to testify in court.
216th State District Judge Stephen Abels, standing in for local judges because of Velte’s political prominence, threw out charges against Velte and his wife, Jessica Maria Velte, at the request of Texas Assistant Attorney General Nicole Habersang.
“It’s been a long, drawn out nightmare and it’s been devastating to my family and my career and everything,” Velte said, reiterating his claim that the girl, 13 years old when she made the allegations, concocted a story because she was chafing under Velte’s strict parenting.
“It must be easier to lie when you’re in a room by yourself than it is to take the witness stand,” Velte said.
In a court filing, the girl signed a statement that said, “I do not want to testify at trial or cooperate in the prosecution of these cases at this time. I understand that without my cooperation, the State of Texas will dismiss these cases.” Lynn Peach, the attorney appointed to represent the girl’s interest, and a Child Protective Services caseworker filed affidavits saying it was in the girl’s best interest to dismiss the cases against her mother and stepfather.
Habersang did not return a phone call seeking comment on the case.
“The system worked … because, frankly, Paul had the resources to be able to litigate this case and turn every stone upside down. Most people don’t have that,” said San Marcos attorney David Sergi, who represented Velte. “He never entertained a plea bargain. He wouldn’t even consider it. Now he can get back to raising his family and rebuilding his reputation.”
Velte, who stormed to prominence in 2006 when he drew 47 percent of the vote in the Republican primary against his establishment-backed opponent, said he is unlikely to seek office again.
“I just think it’s too much baggage to overcome,” said Velte who planned to run against District Attorney Sherri Tibbe in 2010 until his arrest derailed the effort. Tibbe recused herself from prosecution of the case and handed it off to the state attorney general.
Velte said his is a cautionary tale cast with a wayward teenager and overzealous prosecutors and CPS workers. His stepdaughter twice recanted her accusations during videotaped interviews before offering the story used to indict him, he said. But the state declined to release the tapes to his defense team, he said.
“To this day, I’ve never been able to get a copy. Their position is that they don’t have to provide it until after she would have testified at the trial,” Velte said. “I think the average Joe would be surprised that he could be put on trial and never know exactly what the accuser is saying until the middle of your trial.”
San Marcos Mercury Editor and Publisher Brad Rollins is also editor of the Hays Free Press where this story was originally published. It is reprinted here through a news partnership between the Hays Free Press and the San Marcos Mercury.Email | Print