Anderson County DA prosecutes sex offenders

·5 min read

Jul. 30—Anderson County District Attorney Allyson Mitchell and her staff have been busy putting sex offenders behind bars. In an eight week period, Mitchell and her Assistant DA Scott Holden prosecuted six cases with five guilty verdicts and one mistrial.

"It is disgusting that sexual abuse still happens to our children today," Mitchell said. "These types of crimes have lasting effects on the children, and they are robbed of their innocence. We are grateful to the men and women in law enforcement, the Children's Advocacy Center, our Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner and the employee's of the District Attorney's Office for the work that they do for these difficult cases."

Mitchell said she is also grateful to the Anderson County jurors who have heard these cases thoughtfully and thoroughly.

"These lengthy sentences let people know our community will not accept such abuse to our children," said said. "Some of these cases are from delayed outcries."

Mitchell encourages anyone that has been abused in any way to reach out to law enforcement.

"It is never too late to tell," Mitchell said. "These children are brave. After telling someone how an adult victimized them, they must sit in the witness stand and tell the same story to 12 strangers. They may have been victimized but they are survivors. This office will remain steadfast in seeking justice for these children. We must continue as an Anderson County community to keep our children safe."

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Mitchell has been able to keep her cases moving. There was only a 100 case difference the year after the court system was shut down due to the governmental mandates. She said she and her team are working very hard to continue to close the gap.

The week of June 6, the DA's office tried Dennis Dauge on the charge of continuous sexual abuse of a child in the court of 349th District Court Judge Pam Foster Fletcher. The date of occurrence was believed to be on or around Aug. 20, 2019. Dauge was represented by Stanley Sokolowski. He was found guilty of indecency with a child-sexual contact, a lesser included offense of continuous sexual abuse of a child by an Anderson County jury. He was sentenced by the jury to the maximum of 20 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

"For the Jury to find Dauge guilty for continuous sexual abuse of a child the jury would have to find beyond a reasonable doubt that two or more sexual acts occurred over 30 days or more," Mitchell said. "In this case, the jury did not believe that the date range was 30 days or more, instead finding Dauge guilty of the lesser included offense."

Mitchell said the State proved that Dauge fondled a 7-year-old girl. In fact, Dauge testified that he did fondle her but the sex acts did not occur over 30 days or more.

Mitchell said during trial, evidence of possible child pornography was revealed and currently, there is an investigation into it. Dauge possibly faces additional felony charges.

The week of June 21, the DA's office tried Charles Brown on aggravated sexual assault of a child and sexual assault of a child in the 369th District Court of Judge Michael Davis. Brown was represented by Attorney Collin McFall. He was found guilty on both counts.

Mitchell said Brown abused two sisters, aged 9 and 15. He was previously convicted on July 24, 2000 on a sexual assault of a child charge and received eight years TDCJ. Because of that previous conviction, this conviction resulted in an automatic Life sentence.

The week of June 28, former Log Cabin Police Chief Steven Sutton was found guilty and sentenced by an Anderson County jury to 99 years on four counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child and received 20 years in TDCJ for Indecency with a child-sexual contact in 3rd District Court of Judge Mark Calhoon. Sutton was also represented by McFall.

According to Mitchell, Sutton was a former relative of his 12-year-old victim by marriage. With the approval of her parents, he took the child on a motorcycle rode trip to Palestine from Trinity County. While here, he took her to Reagan Park where he and fondled her. As the two were getting on the motorcycle it fell. He ordered her to pick it up and she couldn't. While picking it up he claimed to have hurt his back. He took her to a local motel under the guise that he needed to rest. Once in the hotel room he repeatedly sexually assaulted her.

The week of July 11, David Lyon Willis was found guilty of indecency with a child-sexual contact in the court of 87th District Court Judge Deborah Oakes Evans. Willis was represented by Attorney Ryan Chambers.

Mitchell said Willis' 7-year-old male victim testified that while he was staying the night at his relative's house on July 22, 2020, Willis got him into a bathroom and touched him inappropriately.

"Months later, while talking with his mother's boyfriend and brother about good touch versus bad touch, he made an out cry of what Willis had done to him," she said.

Because Willis has been previously convicted of sexual abuse of a child under 14 years of age twice, he received an automatic sentence of life in TDCJ.

The week of July 26, an Anderson County jury found Steven Ellis guilty of the second degree felony charge of indecency with a child-sexual contact in the court of Judge Calhoon. Ellis was defended by Scott Nicholson.

According to Mitchell, Ellis would often pick up his 7 year old relative after school and touch her inappropriately on the car ride home. He will be sentenced in October by Calhoon. He is not eligible for probation due to the age of his victim.

After six days of testimony in the court of Judge Davis, a mistrial was declared in the State of Texas vs. Melissa Singer when the nine men and three women jury could not unanimously agree after hours of deliberation.

Mitchell said jurors reported they were deadlocked with 10 for guilty and two for not guilty. Singer is indicted for an alleged continuous sexual assault with her former 11 year old student. Mitchell said the State is going to retrial the case and a date certain has not yet been set.