Editor's Note: The following story contains graphic descriptions of a sexual nature. Reader discretion is advised.
Dwain Lee “Moose” Whitfield, a City of Glen Rose employee and the son of Mayor Pro Tem Barbara Mitchell, did not disclose on his 2005 job application that he previously was convicted of a crime even though the form specifically asked for that information, public records show.
An investigation by the Glen Rose Reporter into the backgrounds of all current city employees revealed that Whitfield, 40, has been arrested multiple times since 1996 for misdemeanor offenses in three counties — Erath, Tarrant and Wise. The Reporter performed criminal background checks on all city employees through the Texas Department of Public Safety’s criminal records database and followed up by obtaining court documents in Stephenville, Fort Worth and Decatur.
Whitfield's arrests were for theft by check, indecent exposure and probation violation, all Class B misdemeanors.
In one of the theft by check cases, Whitfield was convicted. In the other cases he received deferred adjudication, a form of probation. Under deferred adjudication, a person is not found guilty if he or she serves out the terms and condition of the probation. If a person does not comply with the terms of deferred adjudication, a judge can move to revoke it and adjudicate a defendant guilty.
Records show that on July 15, 2005, Whitfield completed a job application for a maintenance position with the City of Glen Rose. The Reporter obtained copies of that application and all applications for current city workers under the Texas Open Records Act. The official date of Whitfield's hiring was three days later, on July 18, 2005.
On the job application the city asked all applicants to check a “Yes” or “No” box in answer to the question, “Have you been convicted of a crime in the last seven (7) years?” The box on Whitfield’s employment application was checked “No” even though he was convicted eight months earlier, on Nov. 24, 2004, for theft of property by check.
According to the judgment and sentence handed down by Tarrant County County Criminal Court No. 6 in that case, Whitfield served eight days in the Tarrant County Jail in Fort Worth.
The city’s job application stated that "a conviction will not necessarily be a bar to employment. Each instance and explanation will be considered in relation to the position for which you are applying.”
The back of the four-page application further states: “I understand that if I am employed, any misrepresentation or material omission made by me on this application will be sufficient cause for cancellation of this application or immediate discharge from the employer’s service, whenever it is discovered.” The applicant then must sign and date the form.
Whitfield is the city's head of construction and reports to City Superintendent Ronald Bruce. He has been overseeing city crews on renovations at Oakdale Park. Whitfield often attends city council meetings to address questions about various city projects, including Oakdale and the River Walk.
After the Reporter's Web site last Friday posted the story about Whitfield's arrests, conviction and that he did not provide accurate information on his job application, several city council members expressed concern (see this week's Opinion column on page 4A explaining the rationale behind printing the story). Councilman Bob Stricklin requested that the council meet executive session to discuss the matter. The closed meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. Thursday. Also on the agenda is an item to consider hiring a consultant — such as a retired city administrator from another town — as a temporary city administrator.
After discovering Whitfield's previous arrests, the Reporter requested a meeting with Whitfield, through City Attorney Andrew Lucas, to hear his side of the past legal actions against him. Lucas called back to say that Bruce, Barbara Mitchell and Councilman Chris Bryant would be present at the meeting. It was scheduled for Monday, Aug. 9, at 1:30 p.m. The Reporter was covering another story and did not receive the message about the meeting until later that afternoon. Subsequent questions about Whitfield’s background were handled through the city attorney.
Lucas said the city “knew that Moose had theft by check issues” and that it was not an automatic disqualification for employment. That information and that Whitfield was on probation at the time he applied for employment were disclosed verbally by Weldon Mitchell, the city’s former police chief and Whitfield’s former stepfather, to Bruce, Lucas said.
Whitfield’s job application listed Weldon Mitchell as his initial “referral source.” Weldon Mitchell was married to Barbara Mitchell at that time. She was not yet elected to the city council. Weldon Mitchell served as police chief from March 2004 until he resigned in June 2009.
Lucas said that Whitfield’s supervisors were not aware of the indecent exposure arrest or that Whitfield had violated the terms of his Wise County probation.
The city “has been conducting criminal background checks on employees for several years,” Lucas said. The office staff has access to a database that discloses criminal histories, he added.
City Secretary Peggy Busch said that when someone applies for a job with the city, she goes through a State of Texas website to check each person's background. However, she said she did not know that Whitfield had been previously convicted of a crime within the seven-year time frame when he was hired by the city.
However, when Whitfield applied for a city maintenance job, it's not known who, if anyone, performed a background check. One source, who did not want to be identified, said that Whitfield's application had been kept for some time after his hiring at the city maintenance barn so that his criminal history would not come to light.
Bruce could not be reached Tuesday to comment on that statement.
Whitfield applied for the city job less than a month after he received deferred adjudication on June 29, 2005, for the indecent exposure offense. Again, deferred adjudication is not a conviction and he was not required to disclose that on the city’s job application.
The indecent exposure criminal offense violated the probation terms of the theft by check deferred adjudication in Wise County, according to a motion to adjudicate filed by the Wise County Attorney on June 23, 2005.
"The defendant committed the subsequent criminal offense(s) of indecent exposure (and) did then and there intentionally and knowingly expose his genitals or part of his genitals with intent to arouse and gratify the sexual desire of himself and did so recklessly and in conscious disregard of whether another person was present who would be offended and alarmed by such act," the motion read.
Wise County Court at Law Judge Melton D. Cude on June 23, 2005, ordered a warrant issued for Whitfield for violation of probation. He posted a $5,000 bond on June 27, 2005, and was released.
On Aug. 1, 2005, less than a month after Whitfield had been hired by the City of Glen Rose, Judge Cude commanded Whitfield to appear in Decatur on Aug. 6 that year at 9:15 a.m. to show cause why his probation should not be revoked. On Sept. 6, 2005, the judge issued an order amending the conditions of Whitfield's probation and ordered his community supervision extended for two years, or until Nov. 9, 2007.
On Nov. 14, 2007, Judge Cude issued a "satisfactory order of termination," saying that Whitfield had paid all fines and court costs and complied with the terms and conditions of the deferred adjudication.
Court records show that Whitfield was first arrested in July 1996 for writing a bad check the previous year — $88.70 to a grocery store in Tarrant County. Whitfield listed his address as Stephenville at the time. He pleaded guilty, received deferred adjudication and was ordered to pay court costs and restitution. The case was dismissed in 1998.
In the Tarrant County case that resulted in the conviction, records show the offense occurred in October 2002. Court documents listed Whitfield's address as Euless, a Fort Worth suburb. He was accused of writing a bad check for $30.44 to a grocery store and not repaying the debt. He posted a $500 bond and was released from jail.
When Whitfield failed to make a court appearance, another arrest warrant was issued in January 2004. Whitfield listed his address as Nocona and was arrested in Montague County. He posted a $1,000 bond and was released. When he again failed to appear in court, a warrant again was issued for his arrest in April 2004.
By the time law enforcement officers caught up with Whitfield to arrest him, they discovered he was living in Decatur and was in jail there for a separate Wise County theft by check offense. He was extradited to Tarrant County on Nov. 17, 2004. The Tarrant County District Attorney prosecuted the case. By then Whitfield had served eight days and was given credit for time served and released.
In the Wise County theft case, prosecuted by the County Attorney's office in Decatur, Whitfield was accused of writing seven bad checks in May and June 2004 totaling $500 or more but less than $1,500. An arrest warrant was issued in October 2004. The checks were written to Alliance Rental Center, Romano's Pizza and Mr. Jim's Pizza. Whitfield pleaded guilty to the offense and the Wise County Court of Law ordered deferred adjudication, providing that Whitfield paid a $500 fine, $218 in court costs, $1,753.42 in restitution and performed 24 hours of community service. His probation term was two years.
Whitfield moved to Stephenville, where, according to the employment history he filled out on the City of Glen Rose job application, from late December 2004 to May 2005 he was working at McDonald’s and was responsible for staffing, various reports and inventory. He was living in an apartment on McNeill Street between downtown and the Tarleton State University campus
On May 31, 2005, the Stephenville Police Department received a call from the dispatcher to take a complaint at the complex. The arrest report, obtained by the Reporter, listed one complainant, a 19-year-old woman, and three witnesses, another 19-year-old woman and two men, ages 19 and 20. They all lived in the same apartment complex as Whitfield did.
According to the arresting officer’s narrative, the woman complained that her neighbor next door in apartment No. 109 was “standing in his open doorway naked and then began to masturbate. She said that he has done this on prior occasions, however, they have never reported it to the police.” The female witness also said that she had seen the man in apartment No. 109 standing naked in his open doorway. She said he “often and stares at her and her friend.”
One of the male witnesses told police that he also had seen “Dwain” on several occasions “exposing himself and said he saw him masturbating in the doorway while watching (the complainant's) apartment.”
The two women told police that they had notified their landlord about the “problem” and that they were “very nervous about what the man might do and are offended by what he is doing.”
Another male witness told police he was in the pool earlier in the day on May 31 and saw the man in apartment No. 109 standing in his living room and looking out the window while he masturbated. The witness said it “made him angry and he had to leave the pool area," according to his statement taken by police.. The witness also said that the man had “exposed himself on several occasions while they are swimming or doing other activities at the complex.”
The witnesses also said that the man, whom police identified as Dwain Lee Whitfield II, had “random people coming to his house at all times and they stay for about five to ten minutes.”
The officers responding to the complaint wrote in the report that they attempted to make contact with Whitfield at his apartment and that they saw a man walk through it, but he refused to come to the door and speak with them after they identified themselves as police officers. The officers said they observed the man walk by the window and that he matched the description that witnesses had given them.
Whitfield called the Stephenville Police Department 911 line and reported there was someone knocking at his door. The dispatcher advised him that police were at his apartment and he needed to speak with them. “Whitfield advised dispatch that he would not come outside unless we had a warrant,” the arresting officer said in his narrative report.
Police obtained the warrant and the next day arrested Whitfield on June 1. The arrest report noted that Whitfield was “intoxicated” at the time of his arrest, also a violation of the terms of his Wise County probation.
Whitfield pleaded guilty to indecent exposure and the Erath County Court at Law gave him two years deferred adjudication and a probation period of two years. He also was ordered to pay a $1,000 fine and $288 in court costs.