For a few brief moments recently Terrebonne Parish council members heard concerns voiced to them from two women, concerning the course of defense its attorneys are following.
This has to do with a lawsuit filed by a woman, now 20, who was sexually abused at the Terrebonne Parish Juvenile Detention Center when she was 14 years old, by a guard whose job was to protect her, but who victimized her instead.
Carolyn McNabb, an attorney and Lucretia McBride, a private citizen, said they did not want the parish to protect their tax dollars by following this defense, which says the girl is at fault as much as the perpetrator, because she consented. She also helped to facilitate the crimes, the parish maintains, by not making enough of a fuss or engineering her victimization in order to make it invisible to the surveillance cameras.
After a meeting in executive session with Parish Attorney Courtney Alcock, the council members returned to the dais with poker faces.
No decision was to be made on anything at that point. The agenda moved forward toward adjournment.
We are not attorneys. We recognize that Alcock is within her rights and responsibilities to tell the council members not to discuss the case.
But we are monitors of how the parish ineracts with its citizens. The fact that two people addressed the council on a topic important to them, in our opinion, could have been acknowledged without any legal risk.
Even a statement of thanks with an explanation that no comment or commitments can be made on the advice of counsel would have counted for something.
But the council remained silent.
That silence, we are sure, is not intended to imply agreement with the course of action the parish attorneys are taking. But we do believe these publicly elected lawmakers at least owed it to these citizens to thank and acknowledge.
Failure to do so only makes the concerns they raised appear more relevant.