I don't remember if we talked much on that flight, that was so long and yet went by so fast. We landed in Houston a jumble of emotions. Not knowing what to expect or what we were to do. We looked forward to meeting new family, even under such dire circumstances. We knew somethings about the girls' experience. Their mother had worked for child protective services. She hadn't believe them, or chose to ignore the truth, I don't know which. The oldest had told the school what was happening and an investigation was started. Her mother sent her out of state. To her father. Thus ending the inquiry as far as Texas was concerned. The process was repeated with the second daughter. Her telling what happened, and her Mother sending her away. And lastly, came my Half Sister and just like with me, there was no father to send her away to. She was removed from the home and placed in foster care. The phone call I made came at just the right moment it seemed. We would arrive in time to testify. The trial had already started. There was a wonderful burley man there to greet us. He was built like Santa Clause with the same pleasant disposition. He drove us to the court house in Liberty and walked us in to see the ADA. We met those three young girls in the outer office. The oldest Tammy, had a quick smile and a sweet laugh. Katy was a little more reserved and sensitive. They were my Stepsisters and I adored them immediately. My half sister trailed behind them. She was sweet natured with a kind heart. We were ushered into the ADA's office. He sat back in his chair lazily tossing an orange up and catching it as it came down. With no run up he said, almost casually that there was a mistrial. He said we were going to have to start all over. In Texas, trails have two parts. The first establishes guilt or innocence. The second, if found guilty, was the sentencing phase. Because both my Sister's and my abuse had taken place over seven years ago, the statute of limitations had expired. We had been flown in for the sentencing hearing. But, it never got that far. We were collectively disheartened. We were all so full of hope and so quickly it was dashed. I couldn't believe it. I tried to sound calm, to not be accusatory in my tone. But I was angry. This man who held these girls future in his hands, seemed matter of fact and blase'.
We went out to dinner together, five young women with one horrid thing in common. We tried to keep their spirits up and to revive a sense of hope. They had been so brave. Sitting in a court room full of strangers, with their mother and my father staring them down. They had said what he did. They had come so far and I was so proud of them. I made a promise to those three girls. I promised I would help. I promised they were safe. And I meant it. I didn't know how, but I was going to try and fix this. I owed them that. After we ate, I had an idea, to lift the everyone's mood. We went to the grocery store and got poster boards and markers. I got two for each of us. I told them to write something on them. I wrote a caution to parents to keep their children away from my dad. Each of us took turns under the store parking lot lights. Writing out a warning to all the world about what my Father was. A police cruiser pulled up, I told everyone to get in the car and I stood at the back of the trunk, flipped over my sign and wrote "free kittens" . He was a nice officer. He asked if we were okay. Liberty was a small town and it was late. I assured him we were fine. That we were getting ready for a garage sale for cheerleading. he believed me. I was surprised how easily it came out. And how easily he accepted my explanation. He told us to be safe and off he went. We placed the signs up and down the street my Father lived on. It was a small thing. A simple thing. It was all I had. And for that night it was enough. We took pictures with our signs, to remind us, we weren't done yet. The next day we went back to meet with the ADA before catching our flight back home. He was livid. Any pretense of concern that he had shown before was gone. My father's wife, the girl's mother, had called and complained. Apparently, it was not a common thing in Liberty to have warnings signs put up about a sex offender. The ADA threatened to arrest us for trespass. I don't like feeling bullied. It is a trigger and I told him I didn't think he would. He had no idea how to deal with me. I was not what he expected. He said he didn't know if he would pursue the case. I was insistent. The phone rang and he took the call. He said he was dismissing that case and hung up. He explained that that was a hard one. It was a father who raped his daughter and got her pregnant and resulting in a grandchild, who was seven and who he was now raping. He said it off handedly. As if to say, there were worse cases then this one that get dropped. I knew if he wouldn't help that poor child, these girls didn't stand a chance.
I steeled myself for the battle I knew was coming. I hugged those girls good bye and I promised them again. That it would stop, that they would be safe. It was an echo of that long ago promise to the child I was all those years ago/. But I meant to keep it. I just didn't know how. I wouldn't accept anything else. We got back on a plane and headed home to regroup. A few days later, I got the call I had expected. The ADA wasn't going to continue with the case. It was a quick call, as quick and as off handed as that one in his office. The one that put that seven year old back into hell. I was not going to let his decision stand. I set out to change his mind.