Discovery battle comes to a standstill in child molestation case

David Yates Jun. 16, 2010, 2:23am

After a month's build up, two parties who have been fervently fighting a discovery battle in a child molestation civil suit unexpectedly called off a hearing Monday without rescheduling.

In April 2009, Angela Hill filed a civil suit against Little Folks of Lumberton alleging the childcare's former manager, Mark Merrill, "engaged in inappropriate sexual contact" with her minor daughter.

Hill filed the suit in Jefferson County District Court, naming Merrill and a dozen other Little Folks employees as defendants.

Last month, Hill filed a motion to compel to discovery � in which she claimed Merrill was "refusing to answer" interrogatories and produce case-related documents.

A hearing on the matter was slated to be held on June 14 in Judge Milton Shuffield's 136th District Court. However, the parties canceled minutes before the start of the hearing.

A court official told the Southeast Texas Record that no reason for the cancelation was offered and no rehearing for a later date was requested.

In her suit, Hill says that sometime in December 2007 Merrill "intentionally caused bodily harm" to her daughter "by engaging in sexual contact with her."

"As a proximate result of these incidents, minor plaintiff suffered and continues to suffer from severe personal injuries to her mind and body," the suit states.

Hill is suing for her daughter's emotional distress and medical expenses.

According to the Beaumont Enterprise, the Lumberton Police Department received a complaint that a 6-year-old girl had been sexually abused in December of 2007 by Merrill. A Hardin County grand jury no-billed the case in March of 2008.

Hill is represented by Chris Portner, an attorney for the Reaud, Morgan & Quinn law firm.

Merrill is represented by attorney Michael Truncale.

Case No. D183-844

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