Jasper County cracking down on high-profile sex assault cases

James Gibbs
James Gibbs
Donnie Smith, Jr.,
Donnie Smith, Jr.,

JASPER COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - By Morgan Thomas - bio | email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) – With Jasper County law enforcement making two arrests for child sex assault in the past month, the district attorney believes they're finally making progress in the tough fight against this type of crime.

It's the team that will get the job done: investigate, build and prosecute to the fullest extent of the law.

Jasper County Criminal District Attorney Steve Hollis believes his office and local law enforcement are finally getting child sex assault cases right.

"This type of activity we're talking about here, I mean it's possibly this side of murder," said Hollis.

That's why here in Jasper County folks charged with child sex assault are getting the attention they deserve.

"People can debate, well, murder, at least your victim is gone and doesn't have to suffer anymore," said Hollis.

In the past month, two men in a position of trust were handcuffed for this offense. James Gibbs, a preschool teacher for Jasper ISD, his victim a 14-year-old girl and Donnie Smith, Jr., a community preacher, his victim only 15 when the relationship started.

"Sexual predators are actually real good at hiding themselves, but also getting into the different systems where they get close to kids," said Captain Bob Walker, with the Jasper County Sheriff's Office.

Walker says this makes it even harder for the families to realize what's going on.

"Nobody thinks nothing is going on," said Walker.

Hollis says there's a lot of inherent faith put in those who hold the title of teacher or minister.

"You have a person in a position of trust with a child. Maybe this is someone the child has been taught to trust," said Hollis.

When this does happen, law enforcement and his office will only know about it if a child makes the initial outcry to an adult. Hollis says without confidence in the justice system - that won't happen.

"We just want to send a message that these kinds of people are going to be prosecuted," said Hollis.

And he hopes the consequences will be long sentences in the penitentiary.

Hollis goes on to say that upgrades in law enforcement tools and training will ultimately increase his chance of success in the courtroom in child sex assault cases.

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