Houston Co. deputies plead guilty to misdemeanor assault

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Two former Houston County deputies have pleaded guilty to lesser charges in federal court for their role in the assault of a young black male in July of 2008, a spokesperson with the U.S. Attorney's Office of the Eastern District federal court said.

Henry Gresham and Charles Clark each pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault charges in October. They were originally charged with conspiracy, violation of civil rights and felony assault.

According to the victim, Damon Taylor, the deputies beat him up, took him out of the county and beat him again before leaving him in a remote location.

Sheriff Darrel Bobbitt said both had been terminated.

Taylor had been dating Gresham's daughter.

The indictment alleged that on July 11, 2008, while acting as Houston County law enforcement officials, the men went to Gresham's residence, verbally and physically assaulted an individual, and then transported him in a county-owned vehicle to the Davy Crockett National Forest.  During the drive, Clark discharged a TASER into the victim.  After arriving in the national forest, the victim was again verbally and physically assaulted.  Gresham placed a handgun against the victim's chest and under his chin.  He then used the firearm to strike the victim in the head.  The victim was also knocked to the ground and kicked before the deputies abandoned him.

Monday Gresham testified in district court for an unrelated case.  Civil Rights Activist Billy "Hollywood" Groves said given Gresham's past history, he and many members of the black community felt it was wrong to have him testify.  "He has been brought back as a credible witness and he hasn't even faced his accusers.  He hasn't been, he hasn't owned up to the crime he has done," Groves said.

"Mr. Groves has filed a complaint with the NAACP, we have not entered into this yet, but plan to get involved, Harry Fred Scott, President of Local 6215 Houston County Branch of the NAACP said in a telephone conversation with KTRE.  Scott said he was taking Mr. Grove's complaint back to his local chapter for their consideration and could not act at this time.  He said should the local NAACP chapter decide to get involved the justice department would then be contacted.

Gresham testified in the trial of Ricky Gilmore.  A Houston County jury convicted Gilmore of possession of a controlled substance with the intent to distribute and sentenced him to 75 years in prison.  Groves said he thought the sentence was unfair.  He's calling for an NCAAP investigation.

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