Six Mineola Swingers Club Defendants Plead Guilty, and Will Walk Free
Six of the seven defendants in the infamous Mineola child sex ring will walk out of jail free soon. In a plea bargain with Smith County prosecutors, they pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of Injury to a Child, and they'll go free because the judge gave them credit for the time they've been in jail since 2005 facing charges of sexually abusing children.
This was the notorious case of the very young children who were forced to dance naked and perform sex acts for a group of adults in a club known as the “Mineola Swingers Club” back in 2004. Six club members' first convictions were overturned on appeal in 2007, and prosecutors have been struggling to bring them to trial again.
Smith County District Attorney Matt Bingham says he agreed to the plea bargain because he felt it would do more harm than good to force the children to go through the ordeal of another trial.
"This is just real simple," Bingham said. "These kids have gone into a court of law four times. They have testified to these horrific acts, endured the trauma of having to testify, and I'm not willing to put them through this again."
He said the children -- who now range in age from 10 to 13 -- could potentially have testified as many as seven more times in additional trials, and he couldn't bring himself to do that to them.
The seventh defendant is serving life in prison, and he didn't take part in the plea bargain because he's appealing his conviction.
Despite their guilty pleas, one of the defense attorneys believes all the defendants were innocent. She says anybody who is locked up for five years will plead to anything so they can get out and go home.