Nate should know. He's the reporter who first broke the story at the Texas Observer.
Still, I have to wonder.
As I wrote in the comments to Nate's blog item about yesterday's committee hearing (from which this post is adapted), to me that’s not good enough for three reasons:
1) The Ranger had already searched the suspect's home to find the porn, etc., discussed in his report, which according to his testimony yesterday was completed by April 2005. He would have given the same probable cause in the search warrant affidavit about victim testimony that caused him to search the administrator's residence.
2) It’s incorrect that arrest warrant affidavits include the level of specificity he told the committee. I've reviewed hundreds of these things over the years in county courthouses all over the state. Though it's true such affidavits often contain the most information publicly available about an investigation before trial, in fact, many of them are fairly vague and perfunctory, merely stating what reliable facts or testimony supports the officer’s belief that all the elements of a crime are present, but not in tremendous detail. (Any police beat news reporter could confirm for you these affidavits' frustrating brevity.)
3) Once Burzynski believed Ward County DA Randy Reynolds wasn’t going to prosecute, the risk that the media would read the arrest warrant affidavit, to me, becomes a lesser concern than the idea that an alleged pedophile is running a youth prison. He was being told by the US Attorney and the County Attorney that these were misdemeanor offenses, which meant that for much of last year he was under the impression that the statute of limitations might expire by Feb. 2007 (or earlier, that would be two years after his investigation began).
Why didn’t Burzynski just cuff and stuff the guy? Perhaps because arresting a state agency administrator like that is a politically charged deal, especially during a hot gubernatorial election year, and he feared going out on that limb alone, understandably.
Think about it: If the Rangers had evidence on a drug case, say, about someone who wasn't a corrections administrator, would they similarly wait months for a DA's permission to arrest?
An alternative interpretation might be that Burzynski did a good job investigating the case, but didn’t have the gumption to stand behind his work, force the issue with an arrest, and let the chips fall where they may. By his own admission, he could have.
What do you think? Should the Rangers take a hit?