Jury finds Lufkin man not guilty of sexual assault

Taylor and attorney wait for verdict.
Taylor and attorney wait for verdict.
After not guilty verdict goes back in law enforcement custody
After not guilty verdict goes back in law enforcement custody
Melissa Gallman, Victim's Advocate with the Angelina Alliance for Children
Melissa Gallman, Victim's Advocate with the Angelina Alliance for Children

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - By Morgan Thomas - email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - An Angelina County jury has found a Lufkin man not guilty having sex with a 12-year-old girl. The jury deliberated the case for about 30 minutes.

Paul Taylor, 40, was accused of having sex with a 12-year-old on four occasions.

Taylor will now return to state prison to finish a 15-year sentence. He was convicted of probation revocation after he did not register as a sex offender in San Jacinto County or show up for an arraignment on this charge. He was previously convicted for sexual assault in a previous case.

Taylor also has a case pending on a charge of failure to register as a sex offender in Angelina County.

Taylor is the second Angelina County man this week to walk away from a child sex assault trial. His attorney, John Tunnell, hit the jury hard with the lack of evidence.

Taylor watched as the prosecution pleaded with the jury to believe the alleged victim.

"Sometimes it turns into his word -- the defendant's word -- against the victim's word," family spokesperson Melissa Gallman said.

Gallman sat with the accuser's family throughout the trial. As a victim's advocate with the Angelina Alliance for Children, she prepared them for both scenarios.

"We do work with them in preparing them for either verdict," Gallman said.

In less than an hour, the jury reached a decision -- not guilty on all four counts of child sex assault. Taylor's mother rejoiced.

"I said if you didn't do anything than God will release you and he did he released him," Connie Thomas said.

Family stood strong throughout court proceedings. They believe it was their continued support of him and each other and their faith in God that led the jury to their decision.

"Because we believe in family and my mother makes it clear that we have to stick together," Alicia Taylor said.

Taylor is innocent, but he won't be coming home anytime soon. He's currently serving 15 years for a prior child sex assault conviction. That fact was never heard by the jury. Prosecuting attorney Dale Summa says it's the rule. But Gallman wishes the jury had been made aware.

"They should have because that would've made a difference in their decision," Gallman said.

An outcome, we may never know. As for the young lady at the heart of the trial, Gallman says she has closure.

"I think it's a good point at this time for the child because it's behind her now," Gallman said. "It's over."

EDITOR'S NOTE: Morgan Thomas covered Thursday's testimony. Below is her account of the proceedings.

In the state's closing arguments, Dale Summa told the jury that they need to decide whether to believe the alleged victim's story. The defendant's guilt should be based on the believability of her testimony, he said.

In the defense's closing arguments, John Tunnel told the jury the burden of proof is on the state, yet, no cell phone records were obtained, the supposed text messages never surfaced, and no sexual assault nurse exam took place.

Tunnell pondered why the text messages would be erased by the family during the time of the allegations. Tunnell says for one of two reasons: there were never messages from Taylor or the messages were from someone else.

The sex exam could have told whether or not any sexual activity took place on the 12-year-old girl, Tunnell said.

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