ETX attorney: New allegations could exonerate Mineola Swingers Club defendants

ETX attorney: New allegations could exonerate Mineola Swingers Club defendants

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - Claims of abuse against two East Texas foster parents are raising new questions in a case many thought was finally over.

CPS records show the foster children, who are victims of the Mineola Swingers Club case, are accusing their foster parents of physical and emotional abuse.

John and Margaret Cantrell were in court on Tuesday, where a judge ordered four children to be removed from their home and placed into the temporary care of CPS. Court affidavits show two children, both minors, claim the Cantrells physically abused them. Those claims include being hit, slapped and deprived of food. Back in 2008, the Cantrells took in three of four victims in the Swingers Club case, but one attorney said that should have never been allowed to happen.

John Cantrell was charged with two counts of a lewd act with a child in 1991, but those charges were eventually dropped.

"The truth will come out," said his wife Margaret Cantrell in a 2008 interview. "And you know John is a precious man. He has a heart of gold. He and I have completely dedicated our lives to broken children."

Defense attorney Thad Davidson, who represented one of the defendants in the case, believes these new allegations could eventually clear the names of the seven tried in the case.

"If these kids come forward and say you know what, these people didn't do anything to us, Margie and John put us up to it, if that information comes forward, it hasn't yet, but if it does, if it appears to be real, solid, verifiable, I would like to think that all of us, including me, would have cool heads and do the right thing to fix this mess," Davidson said.

If such evidence did come forward, Davidson said he would like to see paperwork to allege their innocence.

But that's a tough legal battle. Six of the defendants pleaded guilty to lesser charges of injury to a child, waiving their rights to an appeal.

"Did these people plead guilty to that because they were guilty of it, or did they plead guilty to it because they just rotted away for 3 years and they didn't want to rot away for the rest of their lives?" Davidson said. "Dennis Pittman chose not to do that, frankly I respect that, but look where he is."

Dennis Pittman is the only one of the seven defendants who refused the plea agreement, choosing to go to trial again. He is currently serving a life sentence.

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