Press Release from the Office of the Rains County Attorney Robert F. Vititow

A jury was selected on Monday, May, 23, 2022, in the Eighth Judicial District Court of Rains County in Cause No. 6172, for the felony offense of Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Young Child. The name of the defendant, a local citizen of Rains County, is not being released to protect the identity of the 11 year old child victim.

The offense occurred over an extended period of time which began in Irving, Texas. The family moved to Emory in 2017, and the abuse continued through January of 2021. The defendant was 50 years old at the time of the trial and the victim was 11. Theryn Waggener of Winona represented the defendant.

Rains County Attorney Robert Vititow began presenting the evidence Monday afternoon after the jury was selected. The State and the defense closed their cases Tuesday morning, and after hearing the evidence, the jury returned a verdict of guilty around noon.

The punishment phase began after lunch. The defendant faced a range of punishment of 25 years to 99 years or life in prison (without the possibility of parole), and up to a $10,000 fine. The defendant elected to have the jury assess his punishment. Vititow argued to the jury, If someone steals something from you such as a ring, you can replace it; what the defendant took from his daughter, she can never replace. It’s a life sentence for her, and he deserves a life sentence. There are certain acts that when a person commits them, they should forfeit the right to walk among the public freely. this is one of those acts. The jury determined the appropriate punishment in this case was life and did not assess a fine.

Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Young Child is a an offense that was passed by the legislature in 2007 in House Bill 8, known as Jessica’s Law. The law was passed in direct response to the problems inherent in prosecuting sex crimes involving child victims. Under this law, jurors are not required to agree in their guilty verdict on the same acts of sexual abuse that occurred. Instead, the jury must unanimously agree that the defendant committed at least any two of the acts of sexual abuse alleged in the indictment over a period of 30 or more days. Vititow explained, “In hypothetical case, four jurors may believe that acts one and three occurred, and the remaining jurors may only believe acts two and four occurred as long as they
all agree any two acts occurred and they were more than 30 days apart. A defendant convicted
under this statute is not eligible for parole.”

The indictment in this case alleged acts of sexual abuse being indecency with a child by contact and aggravated sexual assault of a child, with three different dates being alleged to have occurred on or about January 1, 2018, December 1, 2019, and December 1, 2020. The State was not required to prove the exact dates of the abuse, but only that they occurred prior to the date of the grand jury returning an indictment which was on June 29, 2021.

Vititow commended the court personnel and the citizens of Rains County who served as jurists for the excellent job they did. The jury obviously took their job very seriously. Law enforcement is a joint effort which includes the officers, the prosecutors staff, all of the court personnel and the citizens of Rains County who served as the jurists.

Rains County Attorney, Robert Vititow

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