Guilty; Testimony Of 5 Children From Mineola Swingers Club
A jury gave him the toughest sentence they could. A man who helped force children into disgusting public sexual acts, is heading to prison. He helped orchestrate horrifying acts of child sexual abuse for profit. Jamie Pittman was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison for his part in the "Mineola Swingers Club Sex Ring."
As we've reported this week on KLTV 7, children told authorities they were trained to perform sex acts for the club, given drugs, and even faced threats of starvation and violence if they refused to participate. Thursday jurors heard the disturbing and graphic details straight from the children themselves.
We want you to know KLTV does not identify the victims. Inside the courtroom there were emotions anger, fear, courage, even tears. Five of the children testified against Mr Pittman. Though many of their answers were short they described what they were taught from such a young age.
"Would you go to this club sometimes?," asked Assistant District Attorney Joe Murphy, "Yes," said the victim, now age 9, "What types of things would you do in this club?," asked Murphy, "Um I would go on stage and do bad stuff to my sisters."
Inside a building in Mineola where many of these crimes happened. Children as young as 5 forced to dance, strip, touch each other and themselves.
"Sometimes when you did other stuff were your clothes off?," asked Murphy," "Yes," said the victim, now age 10, "Sometimes when we talk about other stuff, sometimes would you do other stuff by yourself?" asked Murphy. "Yes," said the victim. "Sometimes would you do it with other kids," asked Murphy. "Yes," said the victim.
Their testimony said it all the things they were forced to do at the hands of those that were supposed to love and care for them.
"Would a lot of people be watching you?," asked Murphy of another victim. "Yes, a lot," said the victim, now age 9. "Would those people pay money?," asked Murphy. "Yes," answered the vcitm. "Who would collect the money?," asked Murphy. "Jamie," she answered. "Did you get any money?," asked Murphy. "No," she replied. "What did you get for dancing in this room?," asked Murphy. "Nothing," she said. "What would happen to you if you wouldn't dance in this room," asked Murphy, "I wouldn't get fed and Booger Red would hang me," she replied.
Prosecutors say the man the child calls "Booger Red" is Patrick Kelly, one of five others charged in this ring.
The child went on to describe their punishment for not dancing, a week without food, and other punishments.
"What did he do to hurt you?," asked Murphy of another victim. "He sexually assaulted me," said the victim now age 14 ,"He told me that if he found out I had told anybody about it he would kill me," she said. "Is this fun to talk about?," asked Murphy. "No," she answered.
Their answers were short, but they made an impression on those in the courtroom. After their testimony a licensed counselor spoke of the long term effects on these children
"This is something that these children will live with for the rest of their lives. It will affect the way they see themselves, the way they see others," said Dr. Gayle Burris.
In closing arguments District Attorney Murphy asked the jury to help these children have faith in good people.
"Although those who were supposed to protect them refused and exploited them. They deserve to know that good people are strangers," said Murphy," That all strangers aren't those people watching them dance. That there are good people out there who will step up and protect them too."
With the charge of protecting these children the jury came back in ten minutes with the maximum sentence: Life in prison and a $10,000 fine. One of the jurors said many of them wished they could have given him more.
Outside the courtroom, we also caught up with the foster mother of one of the children abused.
She tells KLTV she is relieved and overjoyed that the jury and investigators with the Texas Rangers believed her child's cries for help when nobody else did.
"Its been a long time coming and there has been a long time suffering but justice was served today," said Margie Cantrell, foster mother, "They looked at the evidence and they looked into the hearts of these children that has suffered so tragically and they believed us. The kids only wanted him to never get out, and he won't be."
Jamie Pittman's defense attorney also spoke briefly to KLTV, saying they are planning to appeal the verdict as early as Friday morning.
Now, Pittman is not the only person facing charges stemming from the Mineola Swingers Club. His five co-defendants, are currently awaiting trial. Of course, any updates we get on their legal proceedings, we will share with you on KLTV and kltv.com.