In 2014, an 11-year-old Eastland girl was kidnapped, raped and left for dead by Clayton Fought. He was free, rather than in jail, the girl’s family argued in a lawsuit, only because police mishandled a previous rape case against him.
Last week, a federal judge in Abilene dismissed that lawsuit against the Eastland Police Department, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.
Although Fought was found guilty of the attacks on that young girl and two others and sentenced to 60 years in prison, the lawsuit dismissal denies the family a chance for justice, their attorney told the newspaper.
“The facts of the case are so heinous, what happened to this little girl. We feel she should have access to the courts and achieve some closure and justice on this issue,” attorney Tahira Khan Merritt said. “The family is very disappointed.”
A father reported to the Eastland police in 2013 that Fought had sexually assaulted his two daughters. Police Sgt. Frank Saylors interviewed the girls, but never questioned Fought and didn’t take an official statement from the girls’ father, the Star-Telegram reported.
A DVD containing the interview with the children was later found buried under unrelated paperwork on Saylors’ desk, and he never submitted the case to the district attorney’s office, an internal investigation found.
Eastland Police Chief Bill Myrick said an internal investigation determined that the case was “improperly handled,” with Saylors the primary person responsible for the failure, the Star-Telegram reported.
Fought was found guilty of attacking the 11-year-old and two other girls in 2015 and was sentenced to 60 years in prison in the 11-year-old’s case and 20 years each in the other two cases.
Saylors was fired from the department in 2014 after the investigation found that he had lied to the police chief about his work on the 2013 case. The year after he was fired, Saylors was elected as an Eastland city commissioner and still serves in that post.