MADISONVILLE, Texas - She says he got away with a horrible crime. He says she's making the whole thing up. Two sides to a story that shook the town of Madisonville to its core.
It all started one night in March of 2013 when a 16-year-old girl claimed she'd been sexually assaulted by nearly a dozen men. Brandon Gilbert was among those arrested about two months later.
"They portrayed us not only as monsters, but criminals at the same time," said Gilbert.
To protect the girl's identity, we'll call her Becky.
"It's breaking me down," said Becky. "There's nothing I can do to get it out of my mind."
The case would never make it past a grand jury, because Becky refused to testify. Without her testimony, the grand jury decided to no bill the case. Gilbert, who spent 45 days behind bars is now a free man.
Gilbert, now 24, is trying to rebuild his life with his four children in Madisonville, but he said the accusations continue to haunt him.
"To go through that and be innocent, and to have kids of your own, looking at you like, daddy, I know that's not you. Daddy, why are they saying that stuff? Why did they do you like that on TV? That hurts," said Gilbert.
Gilbert said he never even met his accuser.
"To be honest, I don't think the crime happened," said Gilbert.
Gilbert's cousin, Earl Tyler, was also accused in the case.
"Having your kids come to the jailhouse and see you behind that glass window, crying and stuff. That's hurtful," said Tyler.
Becky has a different story of what happened that night. She said not only has she known Gilbert for years, but he was the one who picked her up from her home. She said he then drove her to a mobile home with the promise of drugs and a good time with friends. She said she's no saint, but she didn't deserve what happened next.
Becky said she was given drugs and sexually assaulted by as many as ten different men from their late teens to their early 30's.
"Who in their right mind would ever make something like that up," said Becky.
Becky said Gilbert was a known drug dealer in Madisonville who went by the name Teardrop.
"It had to have been planned," said Becky. "They had to have thought it out about what they were going to do."
Becky said Tyler was also there that night.
"He was sitting in a chair, and he was the one telling people, okay, okay," said Becky. "He was the one telling them they were next."
Becky said a few days after the assault, she took 30 days worth of sleeping pills in one night. Death seemed the only way for her to stop the nightmares, she said.
"I'm treated horribly," Becky said. "Like I wanted this to happen."
Madisonville Assistant Police Chief Jonathan Zitzmann said investigators had plenty of evidence to take the case to trial, but in the end, their hands were tied.
"Every investigation hinges on multiple parties, there being a cooperative effort among them," said Zitzmann. "I completely believe in the investigation that was done."
Becky said she couldn't bring herself to face her attackers in court.
"If I were to testify, that would make me have to relive the whole situation. And I can't do that. I've come too far in this past year," said Becky.
Becky has since married and moved out of town. She said she's trying to put the past behind her and move on.
Madisonville Police said Becky could change her mind about testifying at any time, and the case would be sent back to a grand jury.
To comment, the following rules must be followed:
Comments may be monitored for inappropriate content, but the station is under no legal obligation to do so.
If you believe a comment violates the above rules, please use the Flagging Tool to alert a Moderator.
Flagging does not guarantee removal.
Multiple violations may result in account suspension.
Decisions to suspend or unsuspend accounts are made by Station Moderators.
Questions may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please provide detailed information.