How the System is Failing a Houston County Woman
By Will Johnson
HOUSTON COUNTY – People who have watched the television series “Law and Order” know the show often borrows its various storylines from real life crimes. However, in a harrowing role reversal, a Houston County woman now finds herself caught up in a real life drama which could have easily served as an episode plot.
On Friday afternoon, a call was received from Houston County resident Rhonda Musick who said her son had been kidnapped. She further indicated the court system in Dallas County had aided in the crime of human trafficking or at the very least turned a blind eye towards it.
“I basically got railroaded in court,” Musick said. “I had let my son go for a weekend visit and this guy never brought him back.”
In an emotional conversation, Musick explained she had let her son go to Dallas to visit his uncle for the weekend. She said her brother’s wife (sister-in-law) had a brother who had taken a likening to the child from a previous visit and invited Musick’s son over to his residence.
While the child was there, a mark was noticed on the child’s lower back or buttocks. The man, later identified as Lonnie Jordan, called Child Protective Services (CPS).
“He said I beat my son. When I went to court, they hit me with a protective order. I didn’t have an attorney and they wouldn’t provide one for me. Basically, it seems anyone can come and take your kids if you have enough money. He’s not even related to me,” she said.
Musick explained when she tried to present evidence to the court of her son’s residence and enrollment in a Houston County school district, it was not allowed.
“Basically, I need some help,” she said.
“Right now, I’m trying to get a lawyer to file something here,” Musick indicated. “I didn’t hurt my child. They won’t even bring the child for the police or the sheriff’s office to do an investigation.”
She said Jordan allegedly took the child to a doctor in Dallas but added she wasn’t sure if that even happened.
“They had a nurse on the (witness) stand who later confided to my sister – who had been trying to get information out of him – he wasn’t even a nurse but was an X-ray technician. That judge in Dallas, he looked at me like I was nothing but trash. He knew something wasn’t right about this and he didn’t give a damn,” Musick said.
Providing a little background to the story, Musick said her sister-in-law was unable to have children. She added she had let her son visit during the summer, but when he was returned, the brother of her sister-in-law alleged she was using methamphetamine.
“I wasn’t using meth,” she stressed. “I did a hair follicle test and it showed I wasn’t on any type of meth. (Sheriff) Darrel Bobbitt has all the evidence. Basically, they just want my kid. I’ve been having problems with these people since June.”
Musick said she had discussed this matter with the Houston County Sheriff’s Office and two deputies went with her to court in Dallas where they appeared before Associate Judge Don Turner of the 254th District Court in Dallas County.
Attempts to reach Judge Turner on Friday afternoon were unsuccessful.
Asked what the reason the judge gave for granting custody of Musick’s son to a non-relative, she replied, “He never said. He didn’t care. He issued a protective order where I can’t even speak with my son, but his (Jordan’s) lawyers are steadily trying to make a deal. In other words, they are trying to get me to sign over custody of my son. I’m not going to do that. Hell will freeze over before I sign over custody of my son.”
Musick said Jordan was extremely wealthy and was trying to use his money, in essence, to buy her son.
“Talk to the sheriff’s office. They are mad as hell about this. They told me my civil rights (due process) had been violated,” she said as her voice quivered.
The young mother explained warrants had been issued for Jordan’s arrest for kidnapping and tampering with evidence and furthered she was informed by the sheriff’s office “… the judge should have stopped that (the legal proceedings) when he was informed of the warrants. They said the judge knew what he was doing.”
As the conversation continued, Musick said the only pictures taken of her son were taken at a residence and not at a doctor’s office.
“There’s no telling what they did. They could have put make-up on (her son). I think the medical report was real. At no time did it say I struck my son,” she said. “What happened was I tried to give him a pop on his butt and when he tried to squirm away he scratched himself on the bed. They are up there telling people he had contusions but that’s not even in the medical report. That’s just stuff they are making up. I don’t think the sheriff’s office would be backing me so hard and going to court with me if they thought I was guilty. They’re (Jordan and his legal team) just trying to railroad me because they have the money and I don’t,” she said.
“I’m not going to give up my little boy,” Musick stressed. “I’m trying to get an attorney now, but I just don’t have the money.”
After the conversation with Musick concluded, a phone call was placed to Sheriff Darrel Bobbitt.
In a lengthy conversation with the sheriff, he confirmed Musick’s story.
“A few weeks ago, Rhonda Musick came to our office and said she had let her son go to Dallas. She told us last summer, her son had spent part of the summer with her brother and his wife. Her brother’s wife has a brother who the kid would go stay with every now and then,” Bobbitt said.
“A few weeks ago, they wanted the kid to come spend the weekend. I think they had bought him a hover board or something like that. Rhonda let him go spend the weekend and while he was up there, they said they discovered a mark on his back,” he continued.
Bobbitt said he was informed the child was taken to the doctor and the child said his mom had tried to spank him and hit him in the back when she tried to spank him.
“CPS contacted her and she said that yes she did try to spank him. So basically, what she was telling us is this guy has refused to bring her son back. We got involved with this and at about the same time we got a CPS intake which put this at a level two investigation which means it is a non-priority,” the sheriff said.
“We’re trying to get in touch with this guy. His momma is saying please come back. There’s really been no ability to investigate the alleged assault CPS is sending us the intake on, nor has CPS been able to investigate. We start trying to contact this guy and he had told Rhonda the kid was sick and he would bring him back the next day,” Bobbitt said.
“The next day never rolled around and he stopped answering her calls. We started trying to call him and told him we don’t know if she assaulted this child or not. It hasn’t been investigated yet. The jurisdiction is our jurisdiction (in Houston County) and we told him you need to bring this child home. He was informed we have a regular protocol on how we investigate these matters and we also have CPS in our county, too,” he said.
The sheriff continued and said he informed Jordan there was no court order saying he could keep the child and there was no CPS order either.
“Then, he started refusing our calls and the next thing you know, he has an attorney calling us. We told his attorney the same thing and told him CPS in our county was more than capable. I also told him he didn’t have any rights in this matter. There is something called due process of law. She hasn’t been convicted of anything and we’re not even saying you have to give her the child back, but you don’t have any authority to keep this child just because you think she whipped this child and you don’t agree with that,” Bobbitt explained.
As he continued, the sheriff said the investigator working the case was in the process of getting a warrant for Jordan “… when an attorney showed up at the courthouse and filed a temporary ex parte.”
According to the Feldstein Family Law Group, “An order is said to be ex parte when it is granted by a judge at the request of and for the benefit of one party only, without notice to or contestation by the other party. Therefore, only one party appears before the judge and gives his or her version of the facts even though a judge is normally required to hear from all of the parties. Typically, ex parte orders are granted for temporary/interim custody or in extreme cases where an order needs to be made right away for the safety and protection of the child.”
“Apparently,” Bobbitt continued, “at the same time, they were trying to file one in Dallas County.”
The sheriff said he contacted the Houston County judge who signed off on the order and reported the attorneys for Jordan had failed to disclose several relevant facts about the case. In addition, Bobbitt said he informed the judge the same couple had previously attempted to do this to Musick “… and it was unfounded the last time. The next day, the judge called me and said they had rescinded the ex parte order in our county because they had one in Dallas County.”
Bobbitt explained when the court date came up he sent a deputy up to Dallas with Musick and tried to send a letter to the judge.
“They wouldn’t let the judge see my letter because they didn’t want the judge to be influenced in the hearing. The letter was sent to tell the judge I thought the petitioner had misguided him. This kid was not a member of his (Jordan’s) household and did not live with him. The kid is a resident of Houston County and is enrolled in school and his mother has a house in Houston County, where he lived,” he said.
Jordan’s attorneys claimed he lived with Jordan and lived in Dallas on their ex parte order, according to Bobbitt.
When Musick went to court, he said, she did not have a lawyer “… and they had a whole line of attorneys. The judge did not allow her to enter into the record the document s that showed her son was a resident of Houston County. Basically, she was outflanked on every move she made. The judge just flat out ruled that he was going to let the ex parte order stand and this new couple (Jordan and his partner) had custody of this child for two years and then they would review it.”
“What really gets me,” the sheriff added, “is there hasn’t been a CPS review of that home. Have they done a home study on them? How do you even know what these folks are all about? These attorneys just literally bought and paid for this child, in my opinion.”
“This looks to me like if you have enough money, you can just steal somebody’s kid,” he continued. “Where is due process of law in this? My letter to the judge that they refused to give him actually said these lawyers have filed the ex parte order in Dallas County because logistically and financially, this girl cannot fight you up there. If this man’s only reason was to protect this child, why would he avoid law enforcement? We’re the very agency that’s responsible for investigating this in the first place.”
Bobbitt explained he would never know if Rhonda actually had assaulted her son because Houston County officials were never allowed to examine the child or conduct a forensic interview.
“We don’t have any of that evidence now because they literally used the courts to phase out law enforcement,” he said. “This is beyond anything I’ve ever seen in this life.”
“It just looks to me like if you have enough money, you can steal someone’s kid. It was bought. They manipulated the jurisdiction and bought the kid for two years.”
Towards the end of the conversation, Bobbitt was asked if anyone had looked into Jordan’s history. The sheriff said he was unable to comment on that particular matter.
“The whole system worked against law enforcement and against this mother because these folks had the right folks in place and the right money. I hate to say it that way, but I don’t know how else to say it,” he said.
Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at email@example.com.