ANGELINA COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - The jury trial of a former Lufkin charter school counselor facing two felony charges of aggravated sexual assault and indecency with a child by sexual contact has begun.
John Wesley Carter, 47, of Huntington, appeared in court Monday before District Judge Paul White at the Angelina County courthouse.
Carter entered a not guilty plea on both charges.
During opening arguments, prosecutor Ken Dies said the jury will hear testimony about when the victim started crying in a classroom in March 2016 and told a teacher what was emotionally hurting her.
Carter was arrested in November 2013 after an investigation into inappropriate conversations he was having with a girl under the age of 10 at Pineywoods Christian Academy. The girl's parents had planted a recorder on the child and recorded a conversation between Carter and the girl. They then turned that in to Lufkin police.
When police were investigating that allegation, Carter gave them permission to search his house. Police found evidence that Carter had tried to look up child pornography websites.
Carter pleaded guilty to the charge in February 2015, accepting a five-year probation sentence.
Carter was arrested again in April 2016, after a then 13-year-old student made an outcry to a teacher.
Dies said this began the investigation of how Carter expressed interest in spending more time with the victim at his home and near a deer lease.
The mother of the victim testified in court, telling the jury how her daughter behaved after the allegations surfaced.
She said that after a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner interview, her daughter had become "very clingy" and also become withdrawn and gained weight. The mother said that the victim and Carter interacted at a church in Lufkin.
She also testified that the victim was not excited to report her experience when she met with Carter to learn how to hunt at a deer lease.
The defense argued that the incident happened in October 2012, and deer hunting season ranges from November to January.
A coach and another counselor testified next. They told the jury that conversation prompted the victim to make an outcry to school officials. Both said it was clear the girl was emotionally hurt. The two school officials told the jury that the victim confided in them , talking about how Carter took her to a deer lease stand near his home on a four-wheeler to show her how to hunt. Testimony shows Carter engaged in sexual acts at the deer lease.
A Harold's house witness told the jury that the victim said that Carter asked for favors from her if the she wanted to continue learning how to drive the 4-wheeler. The witness said that Carter asked for those favors, sexual acts and inappropriate touching, and that witnesses said it took place at the deer lease stand.
Carter's defense cross examined the school counselor, the coach, and the victim's mother in attempts to discredit the timeline of events.
Trial will resume on Tuesday at 9 a.m.