NAACP Chapter President Plays Race Card to Cover-up Child-Rape Charges Against His Relative
My Struggles With White Guilt And Identity Politics Almost led Me To Ignore The Injustice
About five months ago, I received a call from firebrand liberal writer, Caroline Heldman. She was working on a story about crime and punishment in east Texas for the Ms. Magazine blog. The case was dubbed the Silsbee Rape Case by a local paper and seemed interesting. An underage cheerleader alleged that a star high school athlete had raped her. One grand jury chose not to indict him, a second grand jury was preemptively dismissed due to claims of tampering, and third grand jury would later indict the athlete. The indictment sent the NAACP into an uproar. He later pled guilty to assault for his actions. Adding insult to injury, the high school kicked the victim off the cheer team temporarily for refusal to cheer for her assailant at a basketball game.
That’s the simple part. Where it gets complicated is when small town politics and the issue of race enter into the picture. The victim was a white teenager named Hillaire. The assailant was a black teenager named Rakheem Bolton. Court documents show the cheer that Hillaire refused to make was “2, 4, 6, 8, 10, Come On Rakheem, Put It In.”
Heldman asked me to help her investigate the matter because something “just didn’t seem right.” The thought of a Breitbart blogger investigating a story with a Ms. Magazine reporter seemed too rich to pass up. We traveled to the small town of Silsbee, Texas, about a half hour north of Beaumont, Texas and 40 miles or so from the Louisiana border.
Heldman and I read everything we could get our hands on, including police reports, the grand jury file, and medical reports. We spoke with everyone involved who would speak with us. We researched the names on the grand jury list (which the DA unlawfully released), spent hours with the police chief and his lead investigator, and interviewed the DA and the special prosecutor. We also spent hours in person and on the phone with legal analysts and experts.
According to police reports from the grand jury file, sixteen-year-old Hillaire was at an ill-supervised teen drinking party. She was heavily intoxicated and had both publically kissed another girl earlier in the evening and was seen making out with a boy she liked. Legally, none of this behavior is admissible in court because voluntary sexual behavior is different than a coerced act. Witnesses said in their sworn statements to police that later at the party four young men, including Rakheem Bolton, were able to get Hillaire alone in a locked room.
In Hillaire’s own words according to the police reports: “I was suddenly pushed into the pool room and the door was closed behind me and the lights turned off.… I was pulled backwards and someone whispered in my ear ‘just lay down on the floor…’ Then hands on my thighs were pushing my legs apart. I felt someone penetrating vaginally. I suddenly realized what was happening and I put my hands on someone and yelled at them to stop. I then said, ‘seriously, stop it.’’ I then said ‘no!’ I heard someone say something like “Dude she said ‘stop it’ and ‘no.’”
Hillaire’s story was confirmed by multiple witnesses according to the police reports. Three teens gave sworn statements to the police that they heard a girl yelling “stop” multiple times over the music. The door was locked so they broke through to find Hillaire partially naked and sobbing under the pool table. Four star high school athletes had been in the room with her, and three fled out the window. Bolton fled so fast he left his clothes.
A ruckus ensued. The police reports show that Bolton came back to the house for his clothes and began yelling “‘I didn’t rape no white girl. I wouldn’t use anyone else’s d*** to f*** her. I didn’t put my d*** up inside her. I don’t know if she has AIDS. I don’t even know that girl.” Bolton also threatened to do a drive-by on the house and that everyone involved “better not sleep” that night.
Sixteen year old Hillaire said that seventeen year old Rakheem Bolton had raped her while eighteen year old Christian Rountree had held her down for the assault. Rountree was also identified by a witness’s sworn police statement as the man who brought Hillaire into the dark poolroom. Court documents show that Bolton initially told police that the sexual encounter was consensual, but later pled guilty to assaulting her.
The investigation was led by Silsbee’s police chief, Dennis Allen with Detective Dennis Hughes, according to the police reports and an interview Heldman and I conducted with them. In the police report, Detective Hughes noted that he spoke with Hillaire “at length” and asked the sixteen year old victim specifically if she had been a virgin and also asked if she had ever before received or given oral sex in her life.
There are a number of connections to relatives of the assailant, Rakheem Bolton. Police Chief Allen was appointed to his position with the help of Bolton’s cousin, city council member Thomas Tyler, Sr. City Council member Tyler has close political and employment ties to the initial prosecutor, DA David Sheffield. Tyler also worked as a poll worker for DA Sheffield during his 2008 campaign. Tyler “delivered the Black vote by the vanload to vote for Sheffield,” we were told by a local party official. Tyler also worked for Sheffield for over a decade as an officer in the Hardin County Attorney’s office, and when Sheffield became DA, he continued to carry Tyler’s commission as an officer, meaning Tyler can investigate cases for the DA and carry a badge and gun. This means that Bolton’s relative helped get the police chief appointed in 2007 and was (and is currently) technically working for the DA who presented the case to the first grand jury. Furthermore, the list of grand juror names revealed that Bolton’s family pastor was allowed to be one of the jurors.
A second grand jury was convened that didn’t have close ties to the accused. Special Prosecutor David Barlow presented the case. Barlow stated to Heldman and me in an interview in his Beaumont office that he decided to release the second grand jury prior to presenting evidence to them due to his belief that someone unlawfully provided information to the jurors, so he convened a third grand jury.
The third grand jury indicted Bolton and Rountree nearly a year after the assault, and the NAACP quickly stepped in to support the alleged rapists. Reverend Billy Ray Robinson, the President of the Jasper, Texas branch of the NAACP, held a press conference to protest the indictment. In the video of the conference he expressed concern about the “political motivation” of convening another grand jury. “We are here today to find out the facts surrounding this case and indictment of the two male students who supposedly and allegedly sexually assaulted a third student… This is outrageous. This is where we stand, on principle.”
The problem is, the NAACP chapter president, Reverend Robinson, is Rakheem Bolton’s great uncle according to close family friends. This is something the NAACP leader neglected to mention in his press conference. He also neglected to mention that he was involved with the case from the start when, according to court documents, his family’s bail bond businesses posted bond for both Bolton and Rountree. (Never mind that the Texas Secretary of State didn’t recognize Robinson’s business as having the legal right to operate in Texas.)
After nearly five months of investigating the case, I realized something was holding me back from reporting all the facts. In short, I was deeply torn about reporting on the NAACP.
I thought about the historic role the NAACP had played in the Civil Rights Movement when it had effectively stopped a movement towards violence and supported peaceful solutions. It’s a proud legacy. Unfortunately, I believe that NAACP is long gone.
The NAACP has not responded to Heldman’s request for a response to their involvement in this case, and the organization hasn’t addressed the issue on its own. They have known about these issues for months, but NAACP leadership probably feels confident that no one would dare call them out for fear of being labeled a “racist.”
I felt that my desire to protect the NAACP was a further injustice to the child who had been assaulted. I’ve decided that the best way to be respectful to the real legacy of the NAACP – is hold everyone to the same standard.