— By CHRISTIN COYNE
A Parker County jury Thursday sentenced a man convicted of repeatedly sexually abusing an elementary-school-age girl to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Following two days of testimony, Charles Wayne Holbrook Jr., 34, was quickly convicted Wednesday afternoon of continuous sexual abuse of a young child, aggravated sexual assault of a child and two counts of indecency with a child.
After about 45 minutes of deliberation Thursday, jurors handed down sentences of life imprisonment for the first two offenses and the maximum allowed sentences of 20 years for the other two, along with $30,000 in fines. 43rd District Judge Craig Towson ordered the sentences served consecutively.
“This is the first continuous sexual abuse of a young child case we have tried to a Parker County jury since the Legislature created the offense a few years ago,” Assistant Distrist Attorney Jeff Swain said. “It is a very powerful statute because it allows a jury to consider the entirety of the sexual abuse rather than just focusing on a specific act and because sentences for that crime are served without the possibility of parole. That means that this defendant will never be released from prison.”
The young victim took the stand for about an hour during the trial, describing more sexual assaults than she could count, some in graphic detail. The Democrat does not typically identify victims of sexual assault.
The girl testified that Holbrook sexually abused her between the ages of 5 years old to 10 years old continuously and in a variety of ways.
During testimony during the punishment phase of the trial, a former neighbor and a relative testified that Holbrook also sexually abused them when the victims were young children and Holbrook was around 17 years old.
“He’s still a human being,” Holbrook’s defense attorney, James Wilson, told jurors Thursday morning. Wilson reminded the jury of testimony that Holbrook was abused as a child, as well.
“I’m asking you to consider something closer to the 25-year range,” Wilson said. “I’m asking you to give this man a chance to come out of prison and not automatic life.”
Prosecutors asked the jury to give Holbrook life imprisonment on two of the offenses and the maximum 20-year sentences on the lesser two offenses.
“This defendant has earned it,” Assistant District Attorney Kathleen Catania said.
Catania asked jurors to consider what had been taken from the victim and how she would continue to be affected.
“This is about the rest of her life,” Catania said.
There will never be a time when children will be safe while Holbrook is outside of prison, Catania said.
The child made an outcry to a nurse at Millwood Hospital after a concerned relative removed her from the situation and the girl was hospitalized for post-traumatic stress disorder.
During the trial, the girl’s counselor and one of her teachers testified about the girl’s PTSD symptoms, including hiding under a desk, flashbacks, nightmares and self-harm actions.
“This was a very courageous little girl,” Swain said afterward. “Not only was she brave enough to disclose what had been happening for so many years despite [Holbrook’s] threats that he would hurt her if she ever told, she got on the witness stand and told a room full of strangers all of the awful things he did to her. Her vivid demonstrations of what he did to her made it crystal clear to everyone watching that this girl was telling the truth.”
The child’s descriptions of the abuse lent a lot of credibility to the allegations, Swain said, adding that the level of detail she provided should not have been known by such a young child unless something very wrong had happened.
Jurors were also shown video of Parker County Sheriff’s Investigator Rob Pawley confronting the suspect about the sexual abuse allegation.
“I’m not going to straight up deny it, but I’m not going to claim it either,” Holbrook said, adding that there were periods of time he could not remember and that he was a methamphetamine user.