Charges dismissed against County Clerk candidate

Charges dismissed against County Clerk candidate

Jefferson County Clerk candidate Bailey Wingate is free to concentrate on a contested race for elected post now that an allegation of criminal conduct has been dismissed against the Beaumont attorney running for his first political seat. The cloud of accusation has lingered for months, with Wingate denying any truth to the charge, and all lines of justice supporting his assertion along the way, most recently with the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office calling for complete dismissal of all charges “in the interest of justice.”

The allegation of “assault” was first brought to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office in January, with the law enforcement agency declining to initiate charges against Wingate over the alleged victim’s outcry.

Undeterred, the young woman claiming assault pursued pressing charges on her own after police declined to intercede. As per Texas law, the woman was allowed to file a Class C misdemeanor charge of assault against her alleged attacker without law enforcement support by filing the claim with a county Justice of the Peace. If convicted of the claim made by a private citizen, the accused would be subject to the justice meted out equivalent to those convicted of traffic violations – a maximum $500 fine.

But the fine wasn’t the worst of what could happen, Wingate’s attorney Dustin Galmor said upon release of information that his client was subjected to “criminal charges.” Unchecked public speculation can be as detrimental to political races as criminal convictions.

“This unfortunate false accusation should remind all of us, especially in the current social and political climate, that we must resist a rush to judgment when we hear an individual’s allegations of this nature,” Galmor’s statement read when Wingate was cleared of all charges. “The facts and the motives behind such allegations, whether monetary, political or some other agenda should always be considered.”

Even though Wingate was eventually cleared of wrongdoing, the allegation alone devoured considerable time and money for the aspiring public servant, his attorney said.

“Although Mr. Wingate was entitled to the presumption of innocence constitutionally guaranteed all Americans, he nevertheless immediately sought to prove his innocence,” according to Galmor. “(He) patiently cooperated with all law enforcement officers assigned to the case and even voluntarily submitted to, and passed, two separate polygraph tests. Finally, after a thorough three-month investigation, the State of Texas concluded that all charges against Mr. Wingate must be dismissed.

“Bailey Wingate is grateful for all who have stood by him waiting for justice to prevail. He now intends to focus 100 percent of his time pursuing the privilege to serve his community as the next County Clerk of Jefferson County.”