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2012-07-26

Tape reveals more about civil lawsuit

Special to the Courier

(Editor's note: The first four sentences of this article were taken directly from a taped conversation between Bandera County Attorney John Payne and Bandera County Sheriff's Office Investigator Cpl. Cherie Green. This conversation became the basis of civil litigation filed against Bandera County, Payne and others.)

Payne: "Let me tell you what my situation is - before I go forward and ask you some questions - I can be brought up to date. I represent in an on-going, long-going bitter custody battle the suspect's father."

Green: "Right, okay."

Payne: "Well, is it okay for me to talk to my client (name unidentified) about what you and I talked about?"

Green: "You can sure tell him what's been going on."

These statements were made in the first seconds of a Sept. 20, 2011, telephone call between Payne and Green. The simple statements belie an argument made by local attorney Stephen Schaefer in civil litigation which Schaefer filed in March 2012 on behalf of his clients, Jane and Joan Doe.

In the lawsuit, Schaefer claimed that Payne had called Green under false pretenses to "wrongfully, inappropriately, and clandestinely gain details of an investigation."

Instead, the tape reveals the fact that Payne not only identified himself quickly and clearly, but he also informed Green of his connection to the juvenile suspect's father.

Taken on its face, the tape of the telephone call appears to refute the premise of Schaefer's 38-page court filing.

This civil litigation has been covered extensively in prior editions of the Bandera County Courier.

Articles also revealed that former BCSO investigator Sgt. Jose Baretto offered details of an alleged rape of a then 11-year-old girl to an uninvolved third party. Baretto has since retired. Although BCSO personnel have always had the original tape of Payne's conversation with Green, apparently it took months for it to be released to Payne's attorney, Michael Shaunessy. In fact, a blank tape was eventually sent to Shaunessy. Another request had to be made, which caused a further delay in Payne's defense of the civil lawsuit.

It has not been ascertained whether Schaefer was privy to the taped conversation before he filed civil litigation against Payne.

Additionally, sources close to this increasingly controversial civil case have raised questions regarding whether stalling tactics were used to attempt to withhold the tape's release until after the county attorney run-off election, slated for Tuesday, July 31.