The West Monroe police officer accused of sharing a homemade sex video will stand trial for a felony revenge porn offense next week though text messages recently obtained by The Ouachita Citizen show a West Monroe High School teacher admitting guilt for widely sharing the video or images from it.
Dennis Wall, who is on administrative leave from work with the West Monroe Police Department, was arrested last year for sending the sex video to Michelle Jones, a classroom teacher at West Monroe High School. Jones allegedly sent the sex video and/or images from the sex video to several people, including a high school student.
According to court documents in State of Louisiana v. Dennis Edward Wall, the sex video depicted sexual intercourse between Wall and his then-girlfriend in 2017. The woman in the sex video claimed she asked Wall to delete the video. Later, she filed the complaint with the Sheriff’s Office after learning that images from the sex video had been shared with other people. According to an investigative report by Senior Investigator James Humphrey of the Sheriff’s Office, Wall sent two sex videos to Jones. Later, Jones sent the two sex videos to her ex-husband, John “Danny” Jones, who was dating the woman depicted in the sex videos, according to Humphrey’s investigative report. At the time, the woman in the two sex videos also was working at Danny Jones’ now-shuttered home health agency, United Home Care Inc.
During the course of his investigation, Humphrey found Michelle Jones also sent a screenshot from one of the sex videos to several United Home Care employees as well as to Danny Jones’ son, who was a student at West Monroe High School at the time.
Fourth Judicial District Attorney Steve Tew is prosecuting Wall for non-consensual disclosure of a private image and obstruction of justice.
Tew’s office did not prosecute Michelle Jones, but offered her a diversion agreement guaranteeing her immunity after paying a $650 fine.
The woman depicted in the sex video has objected to Tew’s prosecution of Wall, especially since his office declined to prosecute Michelle Jones for the same offense. In spite of the victim’s objection, Tew’s office is taking the case to trial, beginning Monday.
The range of Michelle Jones’ immunity were the subject of arguments during a court hearing last week as Fourth Judicial District Court Judge Larry Jefferson sought to resolve all pending motions before trial.
During the Nov. 6 hearing, Wall’s attorney, Devin Jones, of Monroe, outlined the allegation that Michelle Jones violated the terms of her diversion agreement by making contact with her ex-husband, Danny Jones, at a time when Danny Jones was married to the victim.
“The basis is a perceived violation of the diversion agreement,” said Assistant District Attorney Sean Southern. “The state’s position is that this is not a violation of the diversion agreement.”
Devin Jones asked for the district attorney’s office to turn over any correspondence from the victim about the alleged violation or any documents showing the district attorney was aware of the violations. Devin Jones sought the information so he could defend his client and impeach Michelle Jones as a witness if she testified at trial. Michelle Jones is one of the district attorney’s witnesses.
In response, Southern said he simply called Michelle Jones’ attorney, Cameron Murray.
“I called Cameron Murray and said it was probably not a good idea for Ms. Jones to have contact,” Southern said.
Later, Murray argued his client could not be disqualified as a witness because of her diversion agreement guaranteeing her immunity.
Pointing to the diversion agreement guaranteeing immunity for Michelle Jones, Murray said, “There’s nothing she could say that could incriminate her.”
in text messages
A large batch of text messages sent or received by Michelle Jones during January 2018 were attached to Wall’s Aug. 12 motion to void Michelle Jones’ self-incrimination rights. Nearly 1,000 pages of text messages were attached as an exhibit to the filing.
Some of Michelle Jones’ text messages shed light on the circumstances leading to Wall sending the sex video to her. Michelle Jones appeared to allege that her ex-husband, Danny Jones, was “after” Wall along with others.
“And Danny hates him so I’m sure he’s trying to show Dennis ‘ who’s the man,’” said Michelle Jones. “Before Danny and I got back together, Dennis tried and tried to talk me into going out with him. I was never interested at all.”
Prior to her diversion agreement in early January 2018, Michelle Jones informed a family member that she could face a criminal charge for sharing the sex video.
“I can be arrested then the case goes to the (DA’s) office to see if it can be prosecuted,” said Michelle Jones. “And it can. I did it. Even though I didn’t know it realize it was a criminal offense I’m still bound to the law.”
“I wish I could plead ignorance but that’s not a defense at all,” she added in a follow-up text message.
Wall is facing a charge for obstruction of justice, arising from the allegation that he and Michelle Jones disposed of their cell phones containing the sex video after learning they might face criminal charges.
In text messages sent to Mark Parrish, a reserve deputy with the Sheriff’s Office, Michelle Jones acknowledged sending the sex video and later getting rid of it, too.
“But I’m still guilty of sending it,” Michelle Jones said. “That’s the worst part. Why did I do that?????? I knew that what I was doing was morally wrong. Didn’t know it was a legal thing until Danny’s attorney told me. That’s when I got rid of the video. I didn’t want it on my phone anyway but after learning that....Wow.”
Sometimes, her description of the incident took a flippant tone.
Speaking of what might provoke her anger, Michelle Jones said, “I can take a lot, endure a lot. But when I’m pushed over the edge.... Well, I start sending pics and then I have to call Cameron.”
“But I’m weird. Lol,” she added.
offers to ‘help direct’
Before Michelle Jones signed the diversion agreement offered her by Tew, the district attorney, she sent text messages to people, expressing her worry about facing criminal charges. In various text messages, she said she felt sick to her stomach, took Ambien from a family member, and took more medicine than she had ever taken in her life, referring to herself as a “pill popper.”
In one conversation with Parrish, a reserve sheriff’s deputy, she appeared to suggest the possibility of Parrish intervening directly on her behalf, to keep her from facing criminal charges.
“I wish I knew someone who could go to Steve (Tew) for me not to be prosecuted,” Michelle Jones said.
Later, in a Jan. 1, 2018 exchange with Parrish, she made her request more explicit.
“Could you talk to the deputy on my behalf or would that even make a difference?” said Michelle Jones. “I’m just praying that Danny will calm down and not pursue this.”
Mark Parrish explained how he could help direct the investigator’s investigation.
“I can’t really advocate for you but he asked and I told him you were a friend so that should help,” he said. “If he brings it up to me then I can discuss it but I’m better just saying what I know based on what I know from you. I can speak to your character as I have known it. I will give my opinion on what happened.
“He may elect to tell me what he is really after. If so I can help direct him. I’m going to try and connect with him after he gets back on other stuff we work on. Hopefully he will bring it up. But I can’t appear to try to sway an investigation.”
Prior to her subsequent meeting with the district attorney, Michelle Jones expressed more worry about what she might be asked. Parrish coached her on how to answer any questions from the district attorney’s office, advising her to give “short simple answers” and to “get in and out.”
“Just no more than they ask,” said Parrish in a Jan. 11, 2018 text message. “Answer the question and don’t add anything to it. Just a direct answer.”
The Ouachita Citizen asked the Sheriff’s Office whether it condoned deputies or reserve deputies coaching a possible suspect how to answer authorities’ questions or offering to help direct an investigation on behalf of a possible suspect. Glenn Springfield, spokesman for the Sheriff’s Office, said the office was made aware of the communications between Parrish and Michelle Jones and reviewed the matter.
“It was determined he was assisting her as a friend only, not acting in the capacity as a reserve deputy,” Springfield said. “It was determined no OPSO policy violations occurred.”
sex video blocked
During last week’s hearing, the victim’s attorney — Carey Underwood, with the Monroe law firm Davenport, Files & Kelly — argued a handful of motions to exclude certain evidence from being used at trial, like the sex video or other items from the victim’s past sexual history.
According to Jefferson, a third party or victim does not have standing in a criminal case to file pleadings.
“I do not find where you have standing,” Jefferson said. “The motions you filed would appropriately be filed by the district attorney or the defendant.”
Underwood argued the state Constitution, broadly interpreted, allowed a victim to file pleadings, though Jefferson questioned that interpretation.
Wall’s attorney, Devin Jones, sounded his agreement with Underwood’s position. The victim should have standing to do things the district attorney would not do, Devin Jones argued.
The district attorney’s office planned to file a motion in limine — or a motion to exclude certain evidence —after a trial jury was selected, according to Southern, an assistant district attorney.
Many of the requests in the state’s pending motion in limine covered the requests sought by the victim, except her request that her past sexual history be excluded from evidence.
Later, Southern said the district attorney would adopt the victim’s requests, ruling out the need for the victim to file pleadings.
Some of Michelle Jones’ text messages shed light on the victim’s request to shield her past sexual history from being admitted as evidence at trial.
Several of Michelle Jones’ text messages to different people revealed her frequent description of the victim as a “town whore” among other negative portrayals, including details about the victim’s supposed experience working at First National Bank.
“Yes...I call her the town whore,” said Michelle Jones. “There’s a pic of her circulating of her having sex with two men at same time. It was circulated around her work at the bank. She was embarrassed and quit bc of it.”