The Lubbock Avalanche - Journal, April 13, 2000

Police couple charged with beating, child sexual abuse

DeSOTO {AP} Two DeSoto police officers a former officer of the year and her husband are charged with beating and sexually assaulting a 13-year-old boy in their care.

The boy and his 16-year-old sister, who says she also was physically abused, had been placed with Lt. William Homer Ransom and Sgt. Judith Corkran Ransom after years of abuse by their parents, according to court documents.

The couple, who have each worked for the DeSoto Police Department for about 20 years, were indicted last week by an Ellis County grand jury and arrested on Tuesday. They remained in the county jail on Wednesday, with bond set at $100,000 each.

Ellis County prosecutors allege that Judith Ransom, the children's aunt, repeatedly beat the boy with a board and police belt, and sodomized him with a four-foot long cable as punishment for soiling on himself. Prosecutors say her husband participated in some of the beatings and allowed the sexual abuse to occur.

The Ransoms' attorney, George Milner III, said the couple never abused the child.

"There is no truth to the allegations. The device (a four-foot long cable) was a medically prescribed procedure that was necessary to help the boy because of the abuse he suffered by the natural father," Milner said.

Milner said the Ransoms would use corporal punishment on the child when he would misbehave, "In this case there is nothing excessive or unusual.

"I think there is a misunderstanding of certain physical evidence and I think it is being driven by the hands of deception by a 16-year-old girl."

DeSoto Police Chief Mike Brodnax said he believes the Ransoms' actions have been misunderstood and that the children may be lying to authorities.

The boy has learning and physical disabilities and has to wear a diaper, he said. The CPS reported the child is mentally disabled.

The boy cannot control some of his muscle functions and has a device inserted into his rectum to help with bowel movements, Brodnax said.

Ellis County Investigator Marlena Pendley, however, has testified that the Ransoms used the cord and a probe to punish the boy and that Judith Ransom "regularly beats the child as punishment in a manner that amounts to physical abuse."

Brodnax said he knew the officers paddled the children, but he never saw signs of abuse on the children.

"Can you hit someone harder than you should? Yes, but that doesn't mean it's child abuse," he said. "We are going to stick by our officers. We think it can be explained away."

He said his department has not launched an internal investigation because Ellis County prosecutors will not turn over information on the case.

William Ransom, 53, was indicted on one count of aggravated sexual assault of a child and nine counts of injury to a child. Judith Ransom, 54, was charged with one count of aggravated sexual assault of a child and three counts of injury to a child.

The children were removed from the couple's Ellis County home in February and placed in foster care after a Child Protective Services caseworker told investigators that she saw and photographed bruises, a black eye and evidence that the boy had been sodomized with a cord or cable. A Waxahachie police officer took the boy to Baylor Medical Center in Waxahachie to have the device removed.

According to court documents, the girl told a CPS worker that her brother was sodomized by their biological father and now "messes" on himself. She and the boy said the Ransoms made him wear the "probe" as punishment for soiling himself, and that he was not allowed to take it out without Judith Ransom's permission.

The girl said the night before the children were taken from the Ransom's home, Judith Ransom had handcuffed the boy to a railing in the bathroom and beat him with a wooden paddle. She said if the boy screamed during beatings, his aunt would put a sock or rag in his mouth.

The girl said her aunt also hit her some and inflicted emotional abuse.

The children were placed with the Ransoms in 1992, after CPS documented sexual and physical abuse by both biological parents and an uncle who allegedly took pornographic photos of the girl.

The father was convicted in Bexar County in 1993 of indecency with an 8-year-old female child, according to Texas criminal justice records.

Court documents show that CPS believed the Ransoms would be suitable guardians.

"It is horrifying, even to those of us who are tenured workers," said Marleigh Meisner, a regional CPS spokesperson. "It is horrifying that these people were policemen."

DeSoto police officials said the Ransoms have been placed on administrative leave without pay but can use vacation and sick time.

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