By AMANDA KIMBLE
ERATH COUNTY (November 14, 2016) – Roy Towers was indicted for sexual assault of a child, but plead guilty to injury of a child. Towers, 30, admitted to injuring a three-year-old female family member.
Either charge is a first-degree felony. They carry the same range of potential punishment, five to 99 years. Still, following the proceeding the case, District Attorney Alan Nash said there is nothing to celebrate.
“This was a negotiated plea agreement, a charge bargain,” Nash explained, adding the degree of the charges may be the same, but there is a significant difference.
“He will not be required to register as a sex offender,” Nash said.
Towers walked out of court on Monday. He was placed on probation. A part of the plea deal, he agreed to undergo sex offender evaluation – and counseling if required.
The case was a complicated one. There was no biological (DNA) evidence. There were no physical injuries.
“There was no confession to touching the girl,” Nash added.
The fact is, the casefile might not contain enough evidence to overcome reasonable doubt. A jury trial could have led to an acquittal. That was something the prosecutor could not accept.
“I would not have proceeded with this case if didn’t believe it was a righteous and legitimate,” Nash said. “The reality is this man engaged in unlawful conduct with a child, and I could not afford the risk of him being acquitted without consequence.”
The final agreement, approved by District Judge Jason Cashon, is 10 years deferred adjudication probation. The conditions of the sentence include avoiding all contact with the victim and her family, plus community service, fines and court fees.
“I would have never agreed if I did not have full confidence in our probation office,” Nash said, adding the sentence was difficult to present to the court. “I believe in the case, but I also believe this is the most favorable result we would achieve to protect the public and this victim.”
As is typical in plea hearings, information on the crime and victim were not discussed in the open courtroom on Monday. But, the casefile shows the uphill battle the prosecutor’s office faced.
The investigation started on December 27, 2014, according to an affidavit filed by the district attorney’s investigator, Matt Coates. An officer with Stephenville Police Department was dispatched to the local hospital following a report of the possible sexual assault. The three-year-old victim was assigned the pseudonym “Jane”.
Earlier that day, the child complained of vaginal discomfort. Jane “eventually” told her mother Towers had hurt her “hooha” with his finger. The victim had been left alone with Towers, a relative, eight days prior to the outcry.
That same day, Jane was taken to Cook Children’s Medical Center. A sexual assault nurse examiner heard a similar outcry. A physical exam revealed excoriation (scrapes or chafing) of the inner folds of the young girl’s external genital organs.
The nurse said the irritation could have been caused by touching. But, she said it could have also been due to hygiene practices or incontinence.
Two days later, during a forensic interview at Paluxy River Children’s Advocacy Center, Jane denied being inappropriately touched.
Meanwhile, an arrest affidavit signed by detective Jason Schipper said the defendant spoke with Sgt. Orlando Gaitan in March 2015. During that interview, Towers used the same term as the child did when referring to her private parts, the “hooha.”
Towers said he may have “accidentally rubbed up on” Jane’s vaginal area. He said the contact could have occurred when changing the child’s urine-soaked clothing. He demonstrated the action of removing the girl’s pants with both hands. He claimed Jane had a change of clothes at his house.
In a subsequent interview, Towers told a special agent with the Texas Department of Public Safety Jane had not urinated on herself. Towers also said he wouldn’t have a change of clothes for the child if she had an accident.
Meanwhile, the victim’s mother said despite Towers’ original story of accidentally touching the child while changing her pants, Jane’s clothing had not been changed.
At one point, the defendant told investigators he had issues with his short-term memory. Towers attributed time in Iraq with his inability to remember certain events.
Investigators meanwhile reported Towers could remember what clothing Jane wore on the day of the alleged assault. He recalled what video game he played. He knew where they were – at his home – on December 19, 2014.
Nash said the case was a complicated one. He also told the court Jane’s family had been notified of the plea bargain proceedings.
And, Cashon told Towers that any violation of his probation could send him to prison for 5 to 99 years, or life.