Sex with children is always a crime in the United States. Extenuating circumstances, such as victims under 12 or 14, serious injury or use of a weapon, can move the charge into aggravated sexual assault of a child. Texas law allows for an even more serious category–Super Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child. Keith Allen Jones of Lorena, Texas received an indictment for two counts of this elevated sexual assualt crime on June 1, 2011, along with two previously charged counts of Indecency with a Child.
Jones had been charged last August with inappropriately touching a minor, and was released on $150,000 bail. Apparently the case had not come to trial for the first crimes, and now sex crimes against a child under six have been added to the list.
What makes a sexual assault become ramped up to Super Aggravated, and what are the consequences of this charge?
- If the victim is under six years of age.
- If the perpetrator causes serious bodily injury,
- uses a deadly weapon,
- threatens the victim with injury or death, or
- uses a date rape drug.
The law allows for 25 years to life imprisonment, with no chance of probation, parole or deferred adjudication. Fines up to $10,000 can also be levied.
Since Jones’ victim was under six, the charge is automatically elevated from Aggravated to Super Aggravated, according to Michelle Voirin, McLennan County’s Assistant District Attorney in charge of crimes against children.
In a similar case last year, Lucas Coe had raped and abused his girlfriend’s 4 year old daughter. The child died of blunt-force trauma to the abdomen. Coe was charged with Super Aggravated Sexual Assault and sentenced to life imprisonment with a $10,000 fine. He was not charged with murder, since prison time is less for that crime, and there is the possibility of parole. The rationale for using the Super Aggravated Sexual Assault charge is to permanently keep those convicted of sexual violation of very young children out of society.
The demand for younger and younger children as sex objects is fueled by an addictive response in the brain, similar to cocaine addiction. It is also stimulated by groups such as Playboy magazine which deliberately has mixed images of children with erotic adult scenes for decades.
Very few cases have been tried under the Super Aggravated charge since the Texas legislature increased the penalties for severe sexual abuse of very young children. Perhaps, with enough media attention to cases such as Jones’ and Coe’s, a strong message will be sent to perpetrators that harming little kids is a big taboo, and not worth the risk of ruining the lives of several people or rotting in jail forever.
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