Whether Lone Star Legal Aid offers advice to clients or gives them extended services, our team of attorneys, paralegals, social workers, and communicators work with the client to ensure equal access to justice, to provide emotional support and to let their voices be heard. Our stories of justice platform is a full page of real stories told by real clients that have used Lone Star Legal Aid’s services. These stories provide an outlet for crime victims to speak their truth and let our readers know that they are not alone.

Crime victims are any person who has suffered physical or emotional harm, property damage, or economic loss as a result of a crime. Crimes can be violent such as murder, sexual assault, child abuse, domestic violence, human trafficking, or stalking to name a few. Crimes can also be non-violent. Examples are theft, burglary, or fraud such as identity theft or financial scams.

We have listed some of the many stories told by our clients that are all available on our website under the news tab. All names have been changed to protect the clients’ identities. To access all of our stories of justice, click here.

Sex Trafficking – She was Already in too Deep

Imagine a young child, almost 14 years of age, being forced into sex trafficking, meeting a variety of men each day and night because your significant other gave you no choice. Kassandra thought this was her new normal and that sex trafficking and physical abuse was acceptable, because that is all she ever knew.

Kassandra felt like she never had a choice. Even when she didn’t want to have sex with all these different men in the trafficking ring, Lilah forced her into it because that was their source of money as a couple. She was psychologically stuck, she thought this was normal and even believed Lilah still loved her regardless of the fact that she was giving her body to multiple men a day.

“I couldn’t leave her. I was young, dumb and in love. That lifestyle was just so normal for me. It was all I ever knew so I did what she said because I thought that was the only way to keep her around,” Kassandra said. “I couldn’t get out of this situation either. I was already in too deep.”

Read the full story here.

Invasion of Privacy and Racial Discrimination – Violation of Constitutional Rights in Housing

The Constitutional rights of several residents were being violated in a low-income housing complex in Center, Texas. They were facing invasion of privacy and unequal protection to the laws rooted by racial discrimination. The Center Housing Authority (CHA) continually violated these residents’ Constitutional rights by breaking multiple federal laws. The landlord’s rules and regulations were so restrictive that the residents’ homes felt more like a penitentiary cell block.

“By forcing the Center Housing Authority to revamp and rethink its policies, we improved the lives of more than 200 families at two large housing complexes,” David Guillory said. “This was what the Legal Services Corporation was formed for. Very few of our clients have big damages cases, so to make a difference in our communities, were are always looking for impact cases where one or two named plaintiffs can change policies and business practices that improve the lives of many similarly situated people.”

Read the full story here.

Domestic Violence – Filing for a New Life

Imagine not knowing if you would be alive to see the next day. Imagine having to protect your children from someone who would hit them, push them and drag them out of the house. Sharon Smith was terrified when she was married to James, as he would threaten her and abuse her to where she thought she would never escape her fear. She felt trapped.

“If I tried to call the police he would tell me I would be dead before they got here and I believed him,” Sharon said.

Read the full story here.

Healthcare – Coverage by Medical Necessity

Mary’s insurance denied her the coverage she needed to keep seeking treatment and surgeries for the genetic illness that she was diagnosed with when she was born. Von Hipple Landau is a type of cancer that causes malignant tumors to form in multiple organs of the body which initiated her permanent blindness in 2007. She also experiences numbness, weaknesses and loss of balance throughout her body. She cannot eat with her hands as they are asleep at her sides. Constant treatment including scans and MRIs are necessary to keep up with her changing body. After 10 years of receiving insurance coverage at MD Anderson, her provider refused to pay for the rest of her treatment.

Read the full story here.

Domestic Violence and Arson – A Man with a Fiery Temper

It wasn’t unusual for the police to arrive at Cynthia’s home in the middle of the day, however this time, they expected to find her dead. They always came and checked on her and warned her to never leave her house at night. Cynthia was a victim of domestic violence for two years until she got a divorce from her husband who was a man with a fiery temper.

Firefighters rushed to her home which was up in flames. Jacob’s son from his previous marriage told Cynthia that Jacob had a history of burning personal property for insurance money and that this was in fact an act done by Jacob. His daughter from his previous marriage also confirmed her father’s habit of insurance fraud.

Read the full story here.

Tax Identity Theft – Innocence Affirmed, Debt Relieved

Lucy didn’t know what else she could do. Her husband would rape her, beat her, and punch her. Being that she is a legal permanent resident in the United States and not a citizen, he would threaten to call immigration officials and have her deported. Lucy sought help from a neighbor when Jimmy, her husband, put a knife up to her throat. Her neighbor recommended she get out as soon as possible. She went to a women’s shelter, and they helped her apply for housing assistance, but she was denied. 

Jimmy used her Social Security number to hide his construction income, and after he was confronted, told Lucy there was nothing she could do about it because they were married. Stealing Social Security numbers was nothing new for Jimmy; he’d used many over the years. It’s how he was able to afford two homes for himself as well as homes for his mother and siblings in Honduras. The women’s shelter referred Lucy to LSLA, and she was then referred to the LSLA’s Low-income Taxpayer Clinic. After analyzing the facts of her case, the Clinic determined she had a good chance of being granted innocent spouse relief. 

Read the full story here.

Teen Dating Violence – Walking on Eggshells

The police were called multiple times for domestic violence and child endangerment. Peter didn’t just physically abuse Kaitlyn while she was alone, but would also aggressively punch and slap Kaitlyn while she was holding their newborn baby.

“Every day he would threaten me with physical violence. He told me if I tried to leave the house, he would shoot me,” Kaitlyn said. I believed him because he actually attempted to kill me several times. He’s tried running me over with the car and shooting me. One time he fired his gun and the bullet nearly missed my head.”

Read the full story here.

If you or a loved one is in need of help, you can apply for free legal help online at www.lonestarlegal.org or over the telephone at 1-800-733-8394. If you or a loved one are experiencing abuse and need assistance, self-help resources are available via www.texaslawhelp.org.  If you or a loved one are in need of an attorney or would like to explore other resources, you can visit the Texas Crime Victim Legal Assistance Network.

Lone Star Legal Aid is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit law firm focused on advocacy on behalf of low-income and underserved populations. Lone Star Legal Aid serves millions of people at 125% of federal poverty guidelines that reside in 72 counties in the eastern and Gulf Coast regions of Texas, and 4 counties of southwest Arkansas. Lone Star Legal Aid focuses its resources on maintaining, enhancing, and protecting income and economic stability; preserving housing; improving outcomes for children; establishing and sustaining family safety and stability, health and well‐being; and assisting populations with special vulnerabilities, like those who have disabilities, or who are elderly, homeless, or have limited English language skills. To learn more about Lone Star Legal Aid, visit our website at http://www.lonestarlegal.org.

Media contact: Clarissa Ayala, cayala@lonestarlegal.org