Former CFO Chris Burrow is slated to testify today for the plaintiffs. Of course, he was also slated to testify yesterday, and that didn’t happen so we shall see where this goes. There was a Nov. 4, 2010 document filed by the plaintiffs that accuses Burrow of having inappropriate conversations with Nathan Campbell. That’s about as much as I feel I can legally say on the matter for now. Stay tuned.
Other notes: People have been commenting about ESD’s offers of proof on Mr. and Mrs. Doe, specifically the testimony about their parenting and why it wasn’t allowed to be given in front of a jury. That decision was actually made way back in July during pretrial motions.
Brent Walker’s first motion to Judge D’Metria Benson was that no evidence/line of questioning be allowed regarding the parents’ personal decisions in raising their daughter. He offered a lot of previous cases that showed in Texas, parents are free to raise their children any ol’ way they like and it still doesn’t mean the kid deserves to be targeted by a sex predator.
In short, the parents could have sent the girl out of the house in a bikini and employees of schools/businesses would still have a responsibility to control themselves from having sex with her. The parents, as far as the law is concerned, bear no blame for what another entity does to their child. Of course, Benson could have said “hogwash” and allowed the questions if she so desired.
She didn’t. So ESD’s attorneys won’t be asking them in front of the jury, barring a total 180 from the judge. They will however, continue to ask them on the record because, as Chrysta Castaneda stated Monday, the Court of Appeals looks at that sort of thing.
UPDATE 12:05 p.m.
We’re in a lunch recess until 1:30 p.m. Here’s the rundown.
Chris Burrow takes the stand with Charla Aldous questioning. Burrow says he has been employed at ESD for more than 15 years and is still employed there, though no longer as CFO. There’s no further clarification on his current role at the school.
Burrow says he was involved in investigating the relationship between Jane Doe II and Nathan Campbell after the Nov. 29 incident with the Farmers Branch police.
He also confirms that when he escorted Campbell off campus on Dec. 1, Campbell told him he’d had sex with Doe II.
Aldous asks Burrow if he immediately told Rebecca Royall about this revelation.
“I don’t recall exactly when I told Rebecca,” he says. “But I did inform her as soon as I was able.”
Aldous asks Burrow if he called Campbell after being deposed on Sept. 24, 2010.
“I did,” Burrow says.
“Did you share information about this lawsuit with him?” Aldous asks.
Burrow says he doesn’t recall. He also says he spoke with Campbell “more than once” after his deposition.
“And at no point did you share information related to this civil lawsuit?”Aldous asks.
“I don’t recall what we talked about in terms of this civil lawsuit,” Burrow says, adding that he was seeking “important financial information” from Campbell that had been presented to Burrow during his deposition by attorney Brent Walker.
Burrow says the information he sought included a policy manual Campbell developed for “a program he managed.”
“Did you ever share with Nathan Campbell information that you thought would benefit him in his criminal case?” Aldous asks.
“I do not recall having a conversation with Nathan related to the specifics of this case,” Burrow says.
“You don’t recall it, but you can’t say it didn’t happen — It’s possible you could have shared information you knew about the civil case that could benefit him in the criminal case?” Aldous asks.
“I believe I would have remembered that if I was trying to share that type of information,” Burrow says.
Aldous asks Burrow if he recalls telling Campbell to “bide his time” in the criminal case until after the civil case is finished.
“I don’t recall making that statement,” Burrow says.
Aldous asks Burrow if he recalls wishing Campbell “the best possible outcome” in his criminal trial.
“What you have stated does not register in my memory,” Burrow says. “I do not recall that I was specifically trying to influence Nathan Campbell in anyway. That was not the purpose of the conversation.”
Aldous asks Burrow if he would ever wish a sexual predator like Nathan Campbell “the best possible outcome” in a criminal trial.
“I do not consider Nathan Campbell a friend,” Burrow says. “I have offered to testify against Nathan Campbell in his criminal trial, and I look forward to doing so.”
Aldous asks Burrow if he believes it would ever be acceptable under any circumstances for Burrow as the CFO of ESD to offer to help Campbell in his criminal trial in an effort to help ESD in the civil suit it was facing.
“It was not my goal to help Nathan Campbell in anyway,” Burrow says, later clarifying his answer at the request of the judge to “No, I do not.”
“Do you recall telling Nathan Campbell that he should not testify in the Doe case?” Aldous asks.
“I do not recall,” Burrow says.
Aldous presses further, asking Burrow if he can “look the jury in the eye” and say he never told Campbell not to testify.
“I have no recollection of making that statement,” Burrow says.
Aldous asks Burrow if he recalls telling Nathan Campbell that the case against ESD was “weak.”
True to form, Burrow says he can’t remember.
Aldous changes gears to 501(c)(3) and religious affiliation questions. Chrysta Castaneda, who has been on a pogo stick of objections all morning takes it to a new heights with this line of questioning. Benson allows the questions, considering Burrow is the Chief Financial Officer and thus the most qualified person ESD has to address its tax status.
Burrow says that ESD is not technically classified by the IRS as a religious organization itself, but it does have an affiliate designation and therefore is exempt from filing 990 tax returns.
Burrow says the Episcopal School of Dallas is “inclusive of many religions.”
Aldous details the three-tiered physical security system at ESD, then asks Burrow if it’s as important to protect students from outside predators as it is from sexual predators located within the school’s walls.
“I believe it’s extremely important to protect students in ever manner you’ve described,” Burrow says.
Aldous establishes that ESD contracts with Children’s Medical Center to have psychologists on campus in case of “crisis situations.”
“Is sexual abuse a state of crisis?” Aldous asks.
Burrow says he believes it is.
“But not at one time did a school psychologist meet or counsel Jane Doe II, did they?” Aldous asks.
Burrow says he was not “privy” to those discussions.
Aldous shows that there’s nothing specifically relating to cell phones in ESD’s written “Acceptable Use Policy.” Burrow says he thought the term “electronic communication systems” was “intentionally broad” to encompass all technology.
Aldous then asks if there’s anything about use of ESD vehicles in this policy. After examining it, Burrow says there’s not but he believes that issue is covered in the employee handbook.
Moving on to email usage, Aldous asks if that kind of communication is “routinely monitored.”
“We monitor emails of specific employees primarily on a suspicion basis,” Burrow says, adding later that the answer to Aldous’ question is “No.”
Recess until 11:30
Burrow clarifies his previous answer, saying that ESD doesn’t routinely monitor staff communication “due to privacy issues.”
“We don’t eavesdrop on telephone calls,” he says. “We do not monitor in real-time, and we do not monitor every message or conversation that is taking place.”
Burrow goes on to explain that employees were allowed to use ESD cell phones as their personal phones as well as long as they participated in a “payback” program in which they reimbursed the school monthly for a portion of the bill. He says he believes Campbell chose to enroll in this program, but before he resigned before it took effect.
Burrow says Campbell was given an ESD credit card when he became the director of the Center for Global Citizenship (this was previously identified as the Global Awareness Center).
Burrow says he’s not aware of any written policies governing the use of ESD credit cards.
Campbell had use of an ESD-owned suburban “strictly for school purposes,” Burrow says.
Aldous asks Burrow if he was aware that Jane Doe II testified that she had sex with Campbell in an ESD suburban on two occasions and that he frequently met up with her while using the vehicle.
“I have no personal knowledge of that,” Burrow says.
Burrow confirms that Campbell had a key to the Center for Global Citizenship house on campus, but says he never knew that Campbell slept there or asked Jane Doe II to have sex with him in the house, which was fully furnished.
Burrow says approved uses of Campbell’s credit card were for supplies in the Global Citizenship house and airfare for visitors. He says all employees’ credit cards were “regularly monitored.”
“If there was a violation of any kind, it would’ve been reviewed with the employee,” Burrow says.
Lunch recess until 1:30 p.m.
I returned from recess to find Benson ruling on the video deposition of Dr. Andy McGarrahan line by line.
Burrow is back on the stand. Aldous returns to questions about the 501(c)(3) status of ESD. She shows a letter from the IRS in 2001 stating that while the status had temporarily been revoked, it was now reinstated with the understanding that if ESD had any “unrelated business income” they would have to file a separate 990-T form.
“ESD did have unrelated business income during your tenure, did it not?” Aldous asks.
“I do not personally, as the CFO, make that designation,” Burrow says, adding that the school’s tax advisors were in charge of making that call.
Burrow confirms that using an ESD credit card to buy alcohol would be a violation of policy.
Aldous shows evidence that Campbell bought two Shiner beers from South Austin Grill and two Heat Wheat beers from Shuckers of Fells Point using his ESD credit card.
“I never saw these charges until you presented them to me in my deposition,” Burrow says, adding that Erin Mayo was Campbell’s immediate supervisor and the one who would have reprimanded him.
Aldous shows that Campbell used an ESD credit card to check into the Westin Hotel on Oct. 22, 2009, when he reportedly had sex with Jane Doe II. Burrow says he believes the charge was preapproved for a room for “visitors from India,” but it was never used for that purpose.
Aldous asks if Burrow has documentation showing the preapproval. He says he’s not sure where the documentation is or if it exists in a file at ESD.
“It may be there,” he says.
Aldous asks Burrow if Campbell used his ESD-issued iPhone for a lot of inappropriate communication with a student, doesn’t that show he had no fear of openly violating the school’s policies?
“I cannot imagine what another person was thinking about his cell phone bill,” Burrow says. “I wouldn’t have done it, but I wouldn’t have done a lot of things Nathan Campbell did.”
Campbell’s cell phone bill showed he texted Jane Doe II during school hours. On Nov. 5, he texted her 35 times in a span of two hours.
The only cell phone bill that ESD says it ever got for Campbell’s iPhone lists a previous balance as well as a previous payment.
“I never saw a cell bill until it was received in late December or January,” Burrow says.
Burrow says he contacted an outside investigation firm to look into Campbell before he resigned.
“Had we had the time, we would’ve investigated much more than we did,” Burrow says.
“Given all you’ve learned about Nathan Campbell’s violation of ESD’s alleged policies, isn’t there some indication that this sexual predator had no fear he’d be caught?” Aldous asks.
“I cannot explain his thinking, actions, or behavior in anyway,” Burrow says.
Aldous then moves to approach Benson before continuing her last line of questioning. This turns into a meeting in chambers between counselors from both sides.
Return from chambers. Benson tells the jury that Burrow’s testimony will continue at a later date.
Aldous calls Dr. Andy McGarrahan, ESD’s psychologist since 1999, by video deposition.
McGarrahan said he disagreed with one description Erin Mayo gave of how the school decided it was going to separate Jane Doe II.
“She basically said I agreed to it, and that’s not my recollection of events,” McGarrahan said.
Regarding the decision to force Jane Doe II to withdraw, McGarrahan said, “I was not asked for my input.”
McGarrahan said he spent “less than one minute” with Jane Doe II the entire time she was a student at ESD.
McGarrahan said he never confirmed the decision that Jane Doe II should be forced to leave ESD, which is how Father Stephen Swann represented the events in his testimony.
“That’s certainly not how I saw it,” McGarrahan said.
Aldous, reading from Mayo’s deposition, said that McGarrahan had input while the decision was being made.
“That’s not an accurate statement,” McGarrahan said.
Aldous said that according to Swann’s testimony, he was looking to McGarrahan to see if the decision to expel Jane Doe II was the right one.
McGarrahan said he was never told that his opinion was being sought as the deciding factor.
ESD begins cross examination by video deposition.
McGarrahan said he told Mayo, Rebecca Royall, and Swann that ESD “was not a healthy place for Jane Doe II.”
“This was going to be a painful, very uncomfortable thing regardless because the school felt, as I did, that this was not going to be a healthy place for her to be.”
“This was not a place where she could maybe ever escape what people were thinking or saying about her,” McGarrahan said.
McGarrahan didn’t think that the decision on whether or not to keep Jane Doe II at ESD should have been made after consulting her parents, her therapist or the child herself.
“Sometimes the school makes decisions that parents don’t like,” he said. “I agree that it was in her best interest to leave.
Plaintiffs call teacher Susan Weil by her deposition, which was theatrically represented by Brent Walker and Charla Aldous. Weil was the first person to bring the “wedding ring incident” to Mayo’s attention in January.
“I’m surprised to find out it’s that important to this case,” she said. “Because it seems like a small part.”
She said she wasn’t aware Mayo used her report as the justification for expelling Jane Doe II.
ESD’s cross examination shows through video testimony that Weil thought the wedding ring incident made students “visibly uncomfortable.”
Plaintiffs call Elaine Biewenga by her deposition, once again reading the parts. Biewenga said she never heard anyone associate Jane Doe II’s name with Campbell until May 2010, but in January she assumed students having a heated discussion were discussing JDII. She reported the “heated discussion” along with her suspicion that it revolved around JDII.
Biewenga said she never had problems with JDII and that the pair had “a really nice rapport and a nice relationship.” After JDII left ESD, Biewenga, her advisor, sent her a card signed by all the students in her advisory class.
Biewenga remembered that Tolly Salz told her that JDII could be “a difficult student” while they were in the teacher’s lounge. But Biewenga said she disagreed and would describe JDII as “delightful.”
ESD begins cross-examination by video deposition. Biewenga said at the emergency faculty meeting called after Campbell’s resignation, Mayo told everyone that Campbell “was in good health and not to be concerned.”
Biewenga said she had heard that Campbell “had done something,” but she didn’t have clue what it was. She said there was “unrest” among the students because he had been such a popular teacher.
“They loved him tremendously,” she said.
Biewenga described the students at ESD as “very supportive” of each other as a whole, but she said they did not seem to be supportive of Jane Doe II in this situation.
Court is in recess and will resume tomorrow, reportedly with Erin Mayo’s testimony.