Nacogdoches woman on trial for letting man have sex with a 13-year-old girl

Debra Bawcom Choate (Source: Trinity County Jail)
Debra Bawcom Choate (Source: Trinity County Jail)

GROVETON, TX (KTRE) - Editor's Note: This story contains graphic sexual content.

Key testimony started Tuesday morning in the Trinity County trialof a Nacogdoches woman accused of several sex crimes against a then-13-year-oldgirl.

Debra Bawcom Choate was indicted in 2012 for one charge ofendangering a child, two charges of sexual performance of a child, and onecount of conspiracy of aggravated sexual assault of a child.

The charges stem from two 2011 incidents in which Choate allowed aman she met on a dating site to have sex with a 13-year-old girl.

Her co-defendant, Scott Frels, is serving two 70-year terms ofaggravated sexual assault of a child and a 20-year term for indecency with achild.

Frels was the first key witness on the stand Tuesday. Frels agreedto take the stand if one of the sexual incidents would not be pursued by theDistrict Attorney's Office.

Frels told Trinity County District Attorney Bennie Shiro that hefirst met Choate on the dating site called Frels saidthat after talking to Choate for a couple of weeks on the computer, he began tomeet her in person. It was at that time that Choate introduced the13-year-old to Frels.

Frels said that the two had at least 15-20 conversations that weresexual in nature pertaining to the underage girl.

"Debra told [the victim] that she wanted her to be withsomeone that treated her right and had experience," Frels said."Debra said she needed someone like me. She would say she wanted her to bewith someone who was kind and gentle like me."

Frels said that all three of them would discuss when and where thesexual encounter would happen. Frels said he was told that the 13-year-old girlwanted to have sex on her birthday.

Frels recalled the first time it happened. Frels said that he metChoate and the underage girl at a convenience store at Highway 94 and Loop287 in Lufkin. Frels continued by saying the 13-year-old girl said she wantedsome wine coolers so they went inside and bought some.

Frels then said the three drove to his house in separate cars.Choate dropped off the underage girl with Frels and then left. Frels said theywent inside and sat on the couch.

"We first started touching and kissing," Feels said."We then started foreplay and moved to the bedroom where we had sex."

Frels continued and told prosecutors that after the incident, theycalled Debra and met up with her at the Olive Garden in Lufkin, where all threehad dinner.

Frels said the next incident took place about three days later.Frels said the three of them, along with his son, went to the Steel Horse Barin Apple Springs.

Frels said that they all were drinking, and he had a lot ofalcohol that night. The four of them then went to his house for the night.

"I sat down in my chair," Frels said. "My dog wasbeing really aggressive and loud, so I said I am going to bed. That's when [thevictim] said I am going with you."

Frels said that at this point, Choate was passed out on the couch.

"We went to the bed and got undressed," Frels said."We started touching each other. I tried to penetrate her but was toointoxicated to get aroused."

It was brought up that Frels' son caught the two in bed andreported it to the authorities.

Frels said he was notified by the Texas Rangers the next day andthat he needed to go to the sheriff's office.

Frels said Choate was only concerned about one thing.

"She was concerned that I might get in trouble," Frelssaid.

Frels was then passed to the defense.

The defense argued that Frels is only trying to make himself lookgood and did not tell the same story today that he told at his trial in March.

The defense attorney said during Tuesday's testimony, Frelschanged his story five times.

The defense asked Frels if it was his plan to get all of themdrunk at Steel Horse and then have sex with the 13-year-old girl.

"No, it wasn't my plan, but it did happen," Frels said.

Frels added that he is not sexually attracted to Choate or the13-year-old girl despite having two sexual encounters with her.

After a lunch recess, the state called Amy Donehoe to the stand.Donehoe was the SANE examiner that examined the 13 year old girl at Kalin'sCenter in Crockett.

"I went through the usual interview," Donehoe said. "She did well."

Donoehoe told defense attorney John Heath that the interviews aredone with full supervision from authorities. The interviews are done in a childfriendly face.

After Donehoe left the stand, there was a closed discussion to seeif the jury would be allowed to hear a tape from an interview between TexasRanger Steve Rayburn and Choate.

The judge agreed that the tape could be admissible.

In the tape, Choate first tells Rayburn that the night of thesteel horse incident, she did drink and was too drunk to remember anything.

"When we got to Scott's house, I fell down," Choate said. "I don'tremember that. My daughter had to tell me that."

She told Rayburn that she had 7 beers that night and she allowedthe girl to drink three wine coolers and two jello shots.

After giving her initial story that the child was in the room withFrels but they were both clothed and nothing happened, Rayburn asked her totell the truth because that is not what Frels told her.

She would eventually tell Rayburn in the tape that Frels son cameto her and told her that the child and Frels were messing around in the room.

According to Rayburn Frels son told Choate that if she would notput a stop to it that he would.

Choate responded to that by she felt bad because she was in noposition to help the child.

Testimony is expected to continue through Thursday. The victim ofthe incident is expected to take the stand on Wednesday.

Copyright 2013 KTRE. All rights reserved.