Judge rules Lufkin man must go to trial for child indecency

Justin Nash. (Source: Angelina County Jail.)
Justin Nash. (Source: Angelina County Jail.)

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - An Angelina County judge has ruled there is enough evidence to send a Lufkin man to trial in a case in which he is accused of inappropriately touching a young girl.

The charges stem from an incident that dates back to last September, when a girl wrote in a school journal about an encounter in which Nash allegedly touched her inappropriately, but she was scared to tell her mother.

Nash's attorney, John Tunnell, met with Nash before the hearing, and the last thing he told him was to "keep your mouth shut."

At the start of the hearing, prosecuting attorney Art Baureiss called a woman named Ivette Alverson, a second-grade teacher at Trout Primary, to the stand.

From Aug. 2011 to May 2012, the teacher confirmed the student was in the class.

On Sept. 26, 2011, the teacher recalled that the student was present in her class. Alverson said she discovered something unusual: the girl turned in a journal entry with an alarming passage. Alverson read it over the weekend. Alverson told Bauereiss the journal entry could be about anything. The journal entry read, " I wish I had another life. I got raped by Justin, and I'm scared to tell my mom."

Alverson then turned in the journal to the counselor. They decided to talk with the student together, with the counselor, Stacey Williams, present to determine if they needed to file a CPS report.

"In the past I've made CPS report based on information I've had from the counselor," said Alverson.

The girl was told she was safe and not in trouble and was asked to reread the journal entry, which she did except for the word "raped." She identified Justin as her mom's "best friend." She said Nash touched and motioned in a circular motion her upper thigh and upper chest area. Alverson repeated the motion for the court to see.

The girl said she was scared to go to Nash's house and she was scared to tell her mom for fear that she was going to get in trouble. She told her sister, who didn't believe her, she said. She told her sister's friend who did believe her.  The girl said the inappropriate touching happened once.

Bauereiss asked if the statement was recorded, and the teacher said it had been by Williams.

Tunnell then asked the teacher about the time where she and the counselor discussed the journal entry with the girl.

Tunnell confirmed that the first time she discussed the entry with the girl was the following Monday after the journal was turned in.

"Were you and Mrs. Williams present together each time you spoke to Jane Doe?" Tunnell asked.

"Yes" said Alverson.

The state then called Williams to the stand.

She said Alverson approached her the morning of Sept. 26, where she showed her the journal entry. They decided to talk with the girl together. She said she did not know whether or not the girl was at school at the time the teacher approached her.

"I asked Jane Doe to read the journal entry. She read what she wrote, which was, 'I wish I had a better life. I got raped by Justin and I'm scared to tell my mom.' I explained to her she wasn't in trouble," Williams said.

She asked if Nash touched her and the girl motioned in a circular motion from her chest area to her thighs, indicating that is where he touched her, Williams said.

Bauereiss asked Williams if the girl knew what the word "raped" meant. Williams said the girl spelled the word as "rapt" and they indicated that they knew the girl knew what the word meant when she followed up with "he did something bad to me".

Williams said she asked the girl if it happened numerous times, and the girl replied "no," but she was scared to see him.

Tunnell asked if there was anything documented about the girl and her home life before the journal, to which Williams replied "no."

Williams said she recalled the girl had an injured arm before the incident, the girl claimed her mother accidentally rolled her arm up in the car window, and as a result, the arm bruised and hurt.

"Did you think there was any connection between the hurt arm and the sexual assault allegations?" asked Tunnel.

"I believe [the girl] when she told me her mother accidentally rolled it up in the car window. I didn't have any reason to not believe her," Williams said.

Bauereiss asked her if that was her first knowledge as to who Nash was, Williams replied she had never heard of Nash before or didn't know who he was.

The state then called Jessica Hernandez, forensic analyst at Harold's House in Lufkin.

Hernandez said she was familiar with the case of the girl and had read the journal herself.

On Sept 29, 2011, Hernandez said she spoke to the child.  She said she was brought to the child on the allegations of sexual abuse.

Hernandez said she was more open with her than her educators when it came to where Nash touched her. Hernandez said she pointed to the topical drawings.

"The journal entry is not necessarily meant to be published," said District Judge Paul White. White said the first outcry is not the journal. He questioned why Williams would be the first person the girl spoke to in detail.

White said he did not believe he needed to speak with the child for the liability hearing.

He then stated there was enough evidence to push for a trial.

Bauereiss said a trial date will be set and jury selection will start soon.

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