A conviction of Michael Jarrod McGough of Cisco for the offense of Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Young Child, came with the maximum sentence of 99 years from an Eastland County Jury. This past week, in the 91st District Court, with Judge Steven R. Herod presiding, the 32 year old defendant was on trial for multiple allegations of sexually abusing a child under the age of 14 years. This offense was added to the Texas Penal Code in 2007 with an enhanced penalty range. The law provides that sexual abuse, which includes sexual contact and sexual assault of a young child or children, on more than one occasion, over a period exceeding 30 days, must carry a minimum sentence of 25 years.
Criminal District Attorney Russ Thomason, the state’s lead attorney on the case, remarked that this case was the first to arise in Eastland County immediately after the law was enacted. “This is now the most effective tool in Texas law to keep sexual predators of young children locked up and out of our communities, thereby preventing additional victims.”
Jurors deliberated regarding guilt/innocence for approximately 40 minutes before returning with the guilty verdict.
During closing arguments to the jury on the issue of punishment, Assistant District Attorney Bill Dowell reminded the jury that the length of sentence they would choose, would send a message about this community. After returning with the maximum sentence of 99 years and being released from service, a juror commented that the jury felt it was time to stand up for our kids in Eastland County and send a message.
Thomason remarked, “ In my seven plus years of public service in Eastland County as District Attorney, I have experienced many excellent citizen jurors who have stepped up to protect this community with bold sentences. The 12 citizens who were on this jury could not have made a more emphatic statement of this community’s intolerance for sexual abuse of young children. I am, and this community should also be extremely proud of these 12 citizens who served us well. ” “I am equally proud of the thorough and caring investigation that was conducted by the outstanding officers of the Cisco Police Department.”
Many around the city, made remarks about the large number of motorcycles and leather clad individuals at the courthouse during the trial. As many as twenty-five men and women, members of BACA, a strong organization of dedicated individuals existing to provide aid, comfort, safety and support for children that have been sexually, physically and emotionally abused, were present to assist the victim in this case. BACA provided escort services and protection for the child as well as her family from start until finish. Members from Weatherford, Mineral Wells, Ft. Worth and Stephenville participated in assisting her to feel less frightened and intimidated in the courtroom setting. BACA is an acronym for Bikers Against Child Abuse.