LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - During the third day of testimony in the jury trial for the former Lufkin charter school counselor facing felony aggravated sexual assault of a child and indecency with a child charges, the defense called several witnesses to the stand.
Al Charanza, the defense attorney in the case, told the jury that John Wesley Carter will be among the defense witnesses that will take the stand in the trial, which is being held in Judge Paul White's 159th Judicial District Court.
Carter 47, of Huntington, has pleaded not guilty to both felony charges.
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 Community 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 into 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.
In his opening arguments, Charanza told the jury that the victim is confused in regard to the timeline of events. He also said that he plans to call four or five witnesses, including Carter, to the stand, and they will all testify that Carter didn't sexually assault the victim.
Charanza also told the jurors that the accusations made by the victim are false. The defense attorney also said that the victim was wearing overalls at the time of the alleged incident.
In addition, Charanza said that because of Carter's background in counseling, he knows not to touch children. He also pointed out that Carter cooperated with authorities and answered all the investigators' questions.
Later, a sex offender therapy counselor took the stand. She said that she had been moderating sessions with Carter as part of a previous probation sentence he had been serving since 2015. The counselor said that she saw Carter in counseling sessions 143 times and that she ruled out Carter having any sexual interest in children.
The defense's witness said the victim's name never came up in the counseling sessions with Carter. She added that if the name had come up, she would have had to report it. The counselor also said that she didn't observe any kind of grooming behavior by Carter.
The prosecutor argued that the expert's assessment is made through self-report. The prosecutor said that the counselor had to depend on Carter to tell the truth to make her assessment.
Carter took the stand later Wednesday, and he testified for two hours before the trial recessed for the day. His testimony will resume tomorrow at 9 a.m.