charge against doctor rocked the community
By Greg Peak
was on a cool Wednesday morning in November 1989 when the Livingston community
was rocked with the news that a prominent member of its medical community had
been arrested in connection with the rape of a 37-year-old Vidor woman.
day, Dr. William Chester “Bill” Ingram, 41, had been booked into the Polk
County Jail and was later released after posting a $25,000 bond on a sexual
arrest occurred on Nov. 8, 1989 after the victim, a pharmaceutical sales
representative, pounded on the door of a residence near Ingram’s rural home
near Livingston at about 2 a.m. Described as being “in hysterics,” the woman
was totally nude and complaining that she had been repeatedly raped.
was taken into custody later that morning by the Polk County Sheriff’s
department, launching a legal battle that would last for the next two decades
as the case wound first through the trial stage and then appeal.
trial, which began in May 1991, was moved to Houston due to Ingram’s prominence
in Polk County as well as the pre-trial publicity the case attracted. State
District Judge John Martin selected his alma mater, the South Texas School of
Law, as the location for the proceeding after granting Ingram’s change of venue
the case went to trial, the charge of sexual assault had been replaced with
aggravated kidnapping, which combined the sexual assault with a claim that the
victim was held against her will at Ingram’s home.
case pitted widely-known defense attorney Dick DeGuerin, a protégé of Percy
Foreman, against special prosecutor Jan Krocker, who would later be elected as
a criminal district judge in Harris County.
the trial, the defense conceded Ingram and the woman had sexual relations at
his home, but argued that it was consensual. DeGuerin told the jury it was only
after the woman became concerned her husband might learn of the affair that she
panicked and claimed rape.
to testimony during the trial, the woman had called upon Ingram at his office
at about 5 p.m. on Nov. 7, 1989 to discuss the over-the-counter drugs sold by
her company, McNeil Consumer Products. When Ingram invited her to dinner, the
woman said she agreed, hoping to further develop a professional relationship
with the doctor.
testimony indicated that when Ingram arrived at her motel to pick her up, he
said he was just returning from a racquetball match and wanted to go to his
home located just outside of Livingston to clean up and change.
at his home, the two agreed to eat supper there rather than go out, but when
the woman began to feel uncomfortable and asked to be taken back to her motel,
things changed. She told the jury that Ingram attacked her, drug her to his
bedroom and literally pulled her clothing off her.
she tried to fight back, the doctor overpowered her and, according to her
testimony, he repeatedly raped her over the next five hours. It was only after
he fell asleep that she was able to slip away from him, climb over a fence and
run to a neighbor’s house for help.
the trial, which lasted about three weeks, a total of 42 witnesses testified
and more than 200 exhibits were admitted into evidence.
June 5, 1991, the seven-man, five-woman jury deliberated for only three hours
before finding Ingram guilty on an aggravated kidnapping charge. Because Ingram
had asked that the judge impose the punishment should he be convicted,
sentencing was delayed while a pre-sentencing investigation was conducted by
the probation department.
would later hand down a 40-year prison term, of which Ingram would serve 24
before being paroled and released from custody in 2016.
it was not mentioned during his 1991 trial, the doctor had also been indicted
by a Harris County grand jury in April 1991 in connection with a March 1988
incident involving the abduction and attempted rape of another woman in
Houston. The district attorney in that case elected not to prosecute Ingram
because he was convicted and sentenced to prison in the Polk County abduction
and rape case.
the appeal of his conviction in the Polk County case was rejected, Ingram
continued the appeal process seeking to have the Harris County indictment
removed from his record. The appeals court in their 2011 ruling also rejected