By BRAD KELLAR
Three people, including at least two connected to the Child Protective Services (CPS) office in Greenville, were arrested Tuesday on felony charges allegedly related to Alicia Moore.
One of those charged, Laura Marsh Ard, is the former program director for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services office in Rockwall.
Hunt County Sheriff Randy Meeks said grand jury warrants were issued Tuesday for Ard, 60, of Rockwall on one count of tampering with evidence; Natalie Ausbie-Reynolds 33, of Fate on three counts of official oppression and one count of tampering with evidence; and Rebekah Lynn Ross, 34 of Greenville on four counts of official oppression and one count of tampering with evidence.
All charges are third degree felonies, punishable upon conviction by a maximum sentence of from two to 20 years in prison and an optional fine of up to $10,000.
“This is a very unfortunate situation because it involves the very agency that investigates crimes against children,” Meeks said. “I hope that the public understands that this is an isolated case and that our local CPS office is very thorough and professional in the execution of their duties.”
Hunt County District Attorney Noble D. Walker Jr. said the charges were issued as sealed indictments from the Hunt County grand jury and declined comment on the specifics of the investigation, as the indictments were still sealed pending the arraignment of the suspects, other than to say the charges were “in relation to the Alicia Moore case.” Walker said the charges were not connected to Moore’s murder.
Ard was the former Program Director Texas Department of Family and Protective Services in Rockwall from March 1981 to when she retired in March 2013. According a resume posted online Ard said her duties included oversight and supervision of approximately 42 staff that conducted CPS investigations regarding children in Fannin, Hunt, Rockwall, Kaufman, Ellis and Navarro counties. Ard said she served on the governing boards of three child advocacy centers - Kaufman County Children’s Center, Navarro County Children’s Advocacy Center and the Fannin County Child Advocacy Center.
Ausbie-Reynolds was also listed as an employee of the CPS office in Hunt County.
When reached Tuesday afternoon, Marissa Gonzales, spokesperson for the Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services in Arlington, said the agency did not have much information about the case.
“We heard about the arrest of one of our current employees,” Gonzales said. “We don’t have any further information.”
All three of the women arrested have posted bail. Alicia Moore’s aunt, Jessica Byrd, answered reporters’ questions outside of her home Tuesday night, stating that the family was focused on Moore’s murder case and that the family had had no problems with CPS.
Late last month, Terry Dwayne Ramshire, 50, of Greenville, was sentenced to 20 years after pleading guilty to a charge of aggravated sexual assault of a child. The indictment alleged Ramsire sexually assaulted a “Jane Doe” victim of less than 17 years of age on multiple occasions between Dec. 31, 2010 and July 4, 2009.
Under a plea bargain arrangement, Ramsire was sentenced to 20 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice-Institutional Division, and was fined $1,000. Ramsire was facing a maximum sentence of up to life in prison for a conviction on the indictment.
Ramsire had also received two indictments in September 2012; one for aggravated sexual assault of a child and another for indecency with a child by sexual contact, alleging he sexually assaulted Moore on multiple occasions during July 2012. Those indictments were dismissed as part of the plea bargain arrangement
Whether the recent arrests are directly related to the Moore/Ramshire incident has yet to be confirmed.