Ex-cop accused of comments kept on list who can be rehired

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 9, 2000

Civil Service Commissioners decided Wednesday to keep a former Vicksburg police sergeant accused of making sexually explicit comments about a rape victim on a list of people who can be rehired.

Sgt. Carl Houston, who resigned from the police department in May and has said he did not make statements attributed to him in July 1999, asked for and got employment eligibility at the Oct. 11 commission meeting.

Two days after that meeting, a $75,000 lawsuit was filed against the City of Vicksburg, citing the administration’s inaction after comments allegedly made by Houston were reported by fellow officers and the victim’s family.

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On Wednesday’s agenda for the commission was an item to reconsider the vote to place Houston on the eligibility list.

After a 20-minute closed session, the three members said they were not taking any action and Houston would remain cleared for rehiring. That means the ultimate decision on whether to put Houston back on the payroll rests with city personnel officers, elected officials and the police chief.

The suit filed by Lorie G. Stevens, claims that Houston, in a meeting with other officers on July 18, 1999, the day she was attacked, said she should have just “rocked back and enjoyed it.”

The suit goes on to state that Houston, who is black, said that Stevens, who is white, should have enjoyed the attack because black people are better at sex.

In a letter to the editor printed in Tuesday’s Vicksburg Post, Houston said the case was motivated by money and that other officers will verify that such remarks were not made.

James Rucker, chairman of the commission, said Monday that he would have voted differently at the October meeting if he had known about the suit.

“If it is true, that is very bad misconduct on the part of a police officer,” he said. “I wanted to correct what we did.”

At Wednesday’s meeting, however, Rucker said the commission did not want to pass judgment.

“We are not saying he is guilty or innocent,” he said.

City officials have expressed a desire to end the suit quickly.

Stevens, with her four children, was shopping for a new house, on Sky Farm Avenue, when ambushed by two men while waiting for the seller to arrive. She now lives in Virginia with three of her children. Her fourth child lives in Warren County with Joe Stevens, her former husband and the children’s father. The son, now 16, who lives in Vicksburg, has also written a letter, explaining how the family was hurt by reports of the comments and that public officials seemed indifferent.

The suspects, Romika Perkins, 24, and Derrick Warren, 18, were arrested by police the day after the attack. Both were indicted on charges of sexually assaulting Stevens and tying up her four children, then ages 3 months to 14 years, and locking them in a closet. If convicted, they face life sentences.

Perkins, who is represented by Jackson attorney Chris Klotz, is set to go to trial Nov. 27, and Warren, who is represented by Vicksburg attorney Andy Sumrall, is set for Dec. 4.