Friday, January 25, 2013

Navarro County judge stacks Texas blogger's three 10-year sentences in connection with child sexual assault conviction

CORSICANA, TX -- Navarro County Judge James Lagomarsino of 13th District Court ruled controversial Texas blogger Joey Dauben must serve three 10-year sentences consecutively for his conviction in connection with a 2007 sexual assault on a 14-year-old male teenager, according to a court representative.

The judge's ruling on Jan. 25 that the three sentences will be stacked rather than allowing 31-year-old Dauben to serve them concurrently, means that the blogger will not be eligible for parole for 15 years. He will be 45 if he is granted a release at his first parole hearing, and then he must serve 10 years probation on a fourth sentence related to a charge of indecency with a minor for which the jury recommended probation.

All four counts of which Dauben was convicted occurred during one incident with a teenager during a church camping trip where the blogger served as a chaperon. A formal complaint was not filed by the teenager until December of 2010, and it was not investigated by law enforcement agencies until July 2011. An indictment was returned by a Navarro County grand jury in December 2011. The indictment included four charges, one for each sexual act that was alleged to have occurred during one encounter between Dauben and the victim.

Dauben, who proclaimed his innocence and attributed the indictment to a political conspiracy against him as payback for his reporting about public officials on his blog the Ellis County Observer, rejected a plea bargain offer from District Attorney Lowell Thompson that would have allowed him to serve 10 years deferred probation but required him to register as a sex offender for life.

Dauben's father, David Dauben, who sat through every day of his son's six-day trial and the hearing on stacking the charges that the district attorney sought, said his son appeared not to react to the judge's decision.

There is no evidence that Dauben had ever engaged in sexual activity with a minor before or since the 2007 crime. The victim testified that he did not object to sexual advances made by Dauben.

District Attorney Thompson previously said that his office was sending a message that Navarro County is tough on child sexual assault cases.

As it is with murder, there is no statute of limitations on child sexual assault. Any individual under the age of 17 in Texas cannot legally give their consent to sexual activity, and anyone engaging in sex with a minor can face up to 20 years in prison for each sexual act alleged.

The age of consent varies from state-to-state, but if a youth is traveling from one state to another the legal age of consent is 18, regardless of what the age is in their home state.

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