Letters of Intent
Possible rape victim Virginia Glore has found a champion in Charlotte Johnson.
As Charlotte Johnson will tell you, she's never been much of a letter-writer. But in October, after reading the Chronicle story about the alleged rape of Virginia Glore (see "Raped Twice?" Oct. 12), Johnson fired off a series of letters, possibly transforming her into Glore's most ardent supporter.
Glore was arrested on Aug. 4, 2000, after she crashed her husband's car outside a South Congress motel. Officials from both the APD and the Travis Co. Attorney's Office say the wreck happened because Glore was drunk, but Glore maintains she had been drugged in a Sixth Street bar and then taken to the motel and raped. Glore also believes she was fleeing her attackers at the time of the crash. Since her arrest, APD officials have claimed that Glore fabricated her rape allegation to get out of the DWI charge. Based on that, APD twice denied Glore access to a rape test kit even though the test could've helped both Glore and the APD dispose of the case.
These reported facts -- along with more recent twists and turns in the Glore story -- sent Johnson's head into a spin. "None of the pieces added up," she said. "I know it's an antiquated idea, but I thought you were innocent until proven guilty."
Since October, Johnson -- the daughter of sometimes infamous Lubbock civil rights attorney Mark Smith, and granddaughter of former Lt. Gov. John Lee Smith -- has written at least a dozen letters regarding Glore's case to various local, state, and federal officials. She has received a fair number of responses. The APD's reply firmly blamed Glore for what she alleged happened to her. Former Mayor Kirk Watson expressed an interest in talking with Johnson. U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison's office called to discuss their efforts at passing legislation that would set up state offices on violence against women. Even Rick Perry's office penned a letter commending her efforts. In all, Johnson said, the experience has encouraged her that one concerned citizen can make a difference.
Not every letter recipient has supported Johnson's efforts, however. On Nov. 29, she got a disturbing phone call from APD Assistant Chief Jimmy Chapman -- who wanted to "reassure me on a couple of points" related to Glore's case, as Johnson puts it. Chapman told her that department policy allows rape test kits to be given to any person who alleges sexual assault -- a point the department has reiterated since October, even though no written policy to that effect exists. More importantly, Johnson said, Chapman "promise[d] me that if I knew what he knew, I too would've denied [Glore] the tests." If Chapman could just talk to Johnson about the case for "10 minutes," he told her, she "would've done the same things and walked out of [Chapman's] office without any more concerns for [Glore]."
He didn't stop there. After lambasting the media as a whole, Chapman told Johnson that "the Chronicle is the worst. If 10% of what you read in there is true, I'd be surprised." And she says Chapman informed her that Commander Duane McNeill, who was interviewed for my Oct. 12 story on Glore, denied ever saying most of the things attributed to him as direct quotes. Incensed by Chapman's accusations -- and his "assurance" that she would have reacted the same way as the APD when Glore made her rape allegation -- Johnson said, "I just don't understand why [the APD] wouldn't take this [case] as a fantastic opportunity to realize there is a problem, own up to it and build a better relationship with the public. I was shocked that [Chapman] wasn't more concerned about the issues."
According to APD spokesman Paul Flaningan, Chapman confirmed that he did speak to Johnson about aspects of Glore's case that he felt the Chronicle had portrayed "inaccurately." But "he wasn't going to talk to [the Chronicle] about the specifics of what he talked about with [Johnson]."
Johnson's run-in with Chapman appears only to have strengthened her resolve to bolster public interest in sexual assault-related issues, and in the APD's handling of Glore's case. She is organizing a fundraiser for the end of January, to help Glore cover legal expenses. "The idea is to raise public awareness and to help raise some money for [Glore's] pursuit of justice," Johnson said.
Glore says she is encouraged by the support that Johnson has shown. "She's amazing. I was looking at her and thinking, 'God has sent me angels.' I want to offer my thanks to all the people who've come to me to offer their support." For more info, or to help on the benefit, e-mail Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org
Help Wanted: Administrators
In the same week AISD agreed to merge its magnet programs at LBJ High and Kealing Junior High Schools (see the Chronicle's "Ten Down ... 90% to Go", Dec. 7), the director of those programs announced he is leaving this capital city for the national one. Dan Gohl is going to Washington, D.C., to head McKinley High School, a science, tech, and liberal arts magnet school. As part of their ongoing attempts at economic resurgence, D.C. officials hope to convert McKinley -- once referred to as "Terrible Tech" -- into a world-class institution that will produce the high tech gurus of the future.
After three years at the helm of Austin's city-owned power company, Austin Energy general manager Chuck Manning is resigning to move back to Georgia for family reasons. (At least he's not following his two predecessors to better-paying jobs at AE's rival, the Lower Colorado River Authority.) Manning, who'll be on the job until the end of January, will pass on to his successor any fallout from Texas electric power deregulation, which kicks in Jan. 1. City Manager Jesus Garza, Manning's boss, is expected to announce details of a candidate search and transition plan next week.