The Williams County Commissioners issued a strong rebuke to the sheriff April 10 following his comments about a special prosecutor’s investigation into members of the Bryan School board.
But Steve Towns says it’s the commissioners who are being irresponsible.
“They got no business commenting on the investigation when it’s involving employees of Jobs and Family Services,” Towns said. “It’s improper for them to make comments.”
In an April 10 press release, the board told Steve Towns to concentrate on running his department and not try to be a prosecutor as well. The release is in response to the sheriff’s comments made during an interview with The Bryan Times, April 8.
“The special prosecutor looking into the Bryan Schools matter doesn’t work for the sheriff – he’s independent,” the released stated.
Towns said he understands that and says he was simply responding to constant delays in bringing the case before a grand jury. There was supposed to be one March 22, but the special prosecutor cancelled it four days before, he said.
Towns said he learned from a call to the special prosecutor at the first of the month is the man had clients’ taxes to complete before he could schedule a grand jury.
“He can file a tax extension,” Towns said. “All I care about are my victims and the case.
“The longer this case goes, the longer it will keep me from releasing all my files which are public record.”
The statement goes on to say the perception of the sheriff putting pressure on the prosecutor could be seen as trying to improperly influence an investigation – a serious matter in itself.
The sheriff said he was not trying to put pressure on anyone. The excuses given by the special prosecutor are the basis for his comments.
“I am repeating what I was told,” Towns said.
The commissioners chastised Towns for saying a man not from Williams County and who does not pay attention to local school issues is being influenced by an upcoming school election. The statement says there’s no credible evidence to support that allegation.
“It’s an irresponsible statement and it unfairly smears the good people in government who work every day to serve the taxpayers,” the released stated.
The sheriff broke out in sarcastic laughter after reading that quote. His frustration is the school district has not cooperated with the investigation.
“It’s awfully convenient for the school,” Towns said about the delay of the case past the May 2 election. The lack of an involved special prosecutor hurts the case, he said.
“The truth is we’re in limbo,” Towns said. “The case will not go forward without his participation.
The commissioners have no idea what sort of evidence he possesses, Towns said. But to wait on someone to do taxes is not a qualified excuse, he said.
“I can’t tell his motivation,” Towns said. “But the last one (excuse) is not good enough.”
For Towns, he wants to protect his sources and victims. Two of his victims have been fired from their jobs, but have won all their appeals.
The commissioners stated they hope the Sheriff thinks before he speaks next time.
Towns said he is just reacting to what others have done.
“I’ve been quiet long enough,” Towns said. “I am not alleging anything, but there has been delay after delay after delay. My sole purpose is getting this done.”