It’s been a long, hard battle.
But nearly 20 years after the nightmare began, Roger Don Holeman’s record has been cleared. It took nine hard years of work to finally get the record cleared, after he found that it after he began trying to regain certification as a law-enforcement officer.
Holeman was one of eight people indicted under what turned out to be false charges of aggravated sexual assault in January, 1994, in the disappearance of Gilmer teen Kelly Dae Wilson.
Miss Wilson, then 17, vanished after leaving her job at Northeast Texas Video a video rental store located on the north side of the Gilmer square, where Kinsman Hospice’s offices are now located. She disappeared on the evening of Jan. 5, 1992.
Holeman and eight others, who except for Holeman and his then-girlfriend Tammy Smith were members of the Eugene Kerr family, had been arrested and charged in May, 1993, with child-abuse charges, which also would eventually be dismissed after intervention by the Texas Attorney General’s Office, maintaining that there was “no evidence” in either the charges related to the Wilson disappearance or allegations of child abuse.
The order completing expunging Holeman’s record was issued Friday in 115th District Court, No. 754-12.
The order states that Holeman, now 63, was arrested Jan. 24, 1994.
His arrest, and that of the others, had been under indictments brought about through the influence of a special prosecutor, Scott Lyford, of Galveston, who originally had been brought in as a special prosecutor at the recommendation of some Child Protective Service employees who were working on the child-abuse allegations.
The expunction of criminal records for Holeman applies to:
1. Upshur County Sheriff’s Office
2. Upshur County District Clerk’s Office
3. Upshur county District Attorney’s Office
4. Texas Department of Public Safety, individually and for the Federal Bureau of Investigation
5. Upshur County Jail
A check of the Upshur County Judicial Records website files on Monday failed to turn up any reference to Holeman, indicating the order had already been carried out by that agency.
The court order states that “For the purposes of this Order, the phrase ‘all records and files pertaining to the arrest’ includes records and files that were generated by Respondents during this expunction proceedings, including copies of the Petition and of this Order that are served on each Respondent. . . .”
Under the Order, each Respondent is to send a certificate to the District Clerk’s Office certifying that the records have been obliterated.
Videotapes and audiotapes related to the arrest are to be erased. Holeman said that he would rather have the videos and audios turned over to him, rather than being erased.
All records relating to the arrest are to be destroyed, “including the records of this expunction proceeding, on or after one year from the date of this order (Jan. 18, 2013).”
Gilmer attorney Tim Cone represented Holeman in the expunction petition.
Cone had been Upshur County District Attorney at the time Holeman was arrested, but had recused himself from handling indictments of the eight at the time because he had represented Holeman in a divorce from his first wife, while in private practice before his election as DA.
Holeman, who was pursuing a law-enforcement career before the events of 1994 disrupted his life, is happy at having his record cleared, but still upset at the years lost, as well as the attorneys’ fees he paid over the years before succeeding with his petition through Cone.
Holeman was a Big Sandy police officer from 1986 to 1988, and said he was a Gilmer officer from 1989 to 1990 “when my (law enforcement officers’) certificate ran out unknowingly” while he was taking time off. He said he was working on getting his certificate back when his life was derailed by the false charges.
He termed what he went through as “20 years of hell.”
Following is a summation of the bizarre allegations that Holeman was a victim of, condensing published reports from November, 1995, when most of the charges against defendants were dismissed:
Then-Texas Attorney General Dan Morales stated that allegations of sexual molestation of children by a satanic cult in Gilmer were the product of coercion, deceit and threats by public officials and others who were supposed to protect the children.
Visiting Judge James B. Zimmermann of Upshur County was asked by the Texas Attorney General’s Office to dismiss all but three of the child molestation charges against several of the individuals.
“Some of these children were abused in their homes of origin. However, they were all undoubtedly also abused by an overzealous, out-of-control system, created by a former special prosecutor, that was supposed to be protecting them and seeking justice,” Morales said.
A lengthy motion filed and other information presented during a hearing detailed the improper and abusive tactics used by Child Protective Service Workers, foster families and Lyford, the former independent prosecutor.
The Attorney General wrote in the motion to the court: “There can simply be no way that pursuing these irreparably tainted criminal cases could ever be in the best interests of the children. However, the interests of those children have been protected.
“The Office of the Attorney General has been committed, and will continue to be committed, to ensuring that those children who were abused will never have to return to that abusive environment. Tragically, because of the actions of those who were supposed to protect and care for these children, this is simply all that can be done for them.”
A total of 48 indictments alleging child sexual abuse, developed between May, 1993, and January, 1994, were filed against Eugene W. Kerr, Geneva S. Kerr, Wendell E. Kerr, Loretta A.C. Kerr, Wanda H. Kerr, Danny O. Kerr, Connie S. Martin, and Tammy Smith, in addition to Holeman.
The indictments alleged various sexual abuses of 15 children.
Lyford and his “team,” which included the two Child Protective Services workers who had asked for him as special prosecutor and two special investigators, developed what presented shocking reports of satanic rituals, sexual and physical torture, cannibalism, and mass murder.
“Lyford later accused seven of those already indicted, plus a police officer, of participating in the abduction, rape, torture and satanic murder of 17-year-old Kelly Wilson of Gilmer,” one report stated.
The Texas Attorney General’s Office was asked to take over the cases in March, 1995.
The Office of the Attorney General was asked by Upshur County officials to take over the investigation and prosecution of the murder case and the child abuse cases.
The Attorney General found the murder indictments were based on “no physical evidence and information that was obtained through coercion, threats and unacceptable interview techniques by the Lyford team,” one publication stated.
The murder indictments were dismissed and the child-abuse cases were revisited.
What the AG’s investigator, aided by a nationally-recognized child psychiatrist and other physicians, found was that the children were forced while in custody of foster parents to tell false stories of satanic ritual and abuses.
It was found that one of the main foster-parent families used what is called “the holding technique,” on the children, which amounted to psychological and physical torture before visits or interviews with physicians or the Lyford team.
The children also were interviewed repeatedly, in lengthy and intimidating circumstances, with many adults from the special investigator’s team surrounding them.
Morales wrote in the motion that the State’s ability to seek justice “has been severely undermined as a result of the outrageous conduct of the Lyford team. . . .
“While many of these cases were viable at their inception, they have now been inundated with lies, deceit, perversions and coercion all in the name of exposing the massive Satanic cult in which the Lyford team so wanted to believe. Now, having uncovered evidence that destroys the credibility of all involved, the State is left without credible witnesses to prove the instant cases.”
One charge against Connie Martin and two charges against Wanda Kerr have not been dismissed.