SAN ANTONIO - A sex scandal in Bandera has rattled the normally-quiet Hill Country Town. Michael Odom, a former Northside school bus driver, is charged with sexually assaulting five children, including his own, over the past decade.
But another one of his children - in prison for the past ten years - may be another of his victims by being wrongfully accused of one of these assaults. Now Odom’s step-daughter is coming forward to say her brother should be released from prison - for a crime he never committed.
“I have myself right now, and I'm waiting to have my brother back with me so I'd have my family back because that is my family,” says Heather Moore whose family has been torn apart by sexual abuse.
She says her stepfather repeatedly sexually assaulted her more than a decade ago.
“I use to wake up every night to Michael coming in the room,” recalls Moore. “I could feel him staring at me. I could feel eyes on me and I'd wake up and I'd look. He was right there in the doorway, butt naked, staring at me.”
But after a anonymous tip to authorities in 2001, Then 8-year-old Heather says her mother insisted she tell investigators that her 13-year-old brother Jesse Ray, who she calls bubba, had been the one who molested her.
“She used to call him daddy, Michael. She said, 'Don't point the finger at daddy. Just point it at bubba and everything will be perfectly fine.'”
But it didn't end up fine because Jesse Ray has been in prison for ten years.
Why? Because back in 2002, he admitted to sexually abusing his sister, waived his right to a trial and pleaded guilty.
“During the interrogation I was telling them no, I didn't do it,” said Jesse Ray who is serving his sentence in the Connally Unit in Kenedy. “I didn't do it man. And they kept pressing it on me. And pretty much forced me into saying I did it.”
He blames pressure by his interrogator while being interviewed without a lawyer.
“He was pretty much, 'Just admit to it and things will be a lot better. If you don't admit it, i'm going to make it a lot harder on you.'”
“I blame myself for it all. I do, I do blame myself," said Heather. "I can't stress enough how sorry I am about it. If I had just done the right thing and just not listened to my mom, everything would have been fine. But I couldn't. I was a baby. I was still a baby myself.”
As for Jesse Ray, it's hard to see the young kid he used to be through all the ink on his face after years in prison for a crime he claims he did not committ.
“I ain't no bad person man. It's just being in here. Tattoos I did for myself. You look at everyone around here. Everyone around here has a mask,” explains Jesse Ray.
Michael Odom is scheduled to appear in Bandera District Court later this week. So far, no one in the justice system has agreed to take a new look at Jesse Ray's case to see if he's really innocent. But the family has asked several lawyers to take on his case.
Jesse Ray Moore is not eligible for parole until 2017.