Justice served after twenty years
Twenty years later, a Bridge City woman has finally received the justice she had been longing since she was a girl.
Selinda McNeil was sexually assaulted when she was 10 years old for more than a year by her mother’s husband, Michael Modglin. During a dispute between her mother and Modglin, the information was made known of what had been occurring. Belinda Terrell and her husband then talked about the issue where he confessed, but she allowed him to stay in their home. He left about six months later but continued to be a threat in their lives with his intermittent visits.
Modglin was said to the “love of her life” for Belinda Terrell and with him gone, she became angry and took it out on McNeil by becoming very abusive.
“He took everything from me — my family, my mother, my life,” she said.
The abuse McNeil suffered at the hands of her mother and the sexual assault from Modglin was a lot for the young girl to handle all alone.
“With him being on probation, it allowed him to drift in and out of our lives,” McNeil said. “My mom didn’t have much of a parental instinct.”
McNeil’s life also began to drift too. She stayed with various friends so she would not have to go home. She also got into the drug scene in order to cope with her life spinning out of control. Finally, when she was 16 years old, she got married to escape her home life. But, this would prove to not be the answer either.
This only added to the problems.
Modglin was charged for the indecency with a minor and sentenced to 10 years probation. But, he failed to live up to the terms of his probation and therefore stopped reporting to his probation officer. He was on the run for 13 years.
Law enforcement agencies looked for him and he was placed on the ten most wanted list in Orange County. McNeil desparately wanted justice and contacted the America’s Most Wanted TV show, but they declined to air the case.
It was a matter of circumstance which led to his arrest. He was sitting in a Houston bus station drinking alcohol, which is a misdemeanor offense, when he was questioned by police. He was arrested and later extradited to Orange County. Monday he was sentenced by Judge Dennis Powell in the 163rd District Court. The sentence was eight years in prison on the indecency charge and five years for failing to register for a total of 13 years. The sentences will run consecutively.
McNeil gathered her courage and gave a victim impact statement. According to McNeil, Modglin cried. But, his pain was nothing compared to what she felt over the years or even that moment.
His “look” had certainly changed and apparently the years and his lifestyle had taken a toll on him. He seemed like an old frail man and not the “monster” McNeil had come to fear.
Following the sentence, McNeil went to the river to take some time to reflect on her life.
Water has a calming effect for McNeil. Once she had gathered her thoughts, she was thankful it was finally over.
McNeil’s mother died of emphysema at the age of 54. The gap between mother and daughter left a very large hole in McNeil’s heart. Their volatile relationship pushed them further apart over the years to be forever broken.
“She died with me hating her,” she said. “When he ran, she gave up. She loved him that much.”
However, when Belinda Terrell died, McNeil closed that chapter of her life in an effort to move forward.
Not only did she put the relationship behind her but the drugs too. She has been sober for more than seven years.
As girl and teen, when McNeil was all alone and thinking nobody cared about her, she turned to Bridge City police officer, Joey Hargrave, for support. According to McNeil, he worked to keep her out of foster homes but away from the abuse too.
“He was with me during the darkest hours of my life,” McNeil said. “He is the reason I am here today.”
McNeil is hopeful by telling her story, others will have the courage to stand up to their abusers and not fall into the pitfalls she endured.
“If was really hard, but if I can do it, so can they,” she said.
Michael Modglin; then and now.