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A woman pleaded not guilty last week to child sexual abuse in connection with a human trafficking investigation that has already sent two men to prison.

Della Lou Griffin, 53, appeared with a member of the Bowie County Public Defenders Office before 202nd District Judge John Tidwell for arraignment Wednesday on four counts of sexual assault of a child and a single count of aggravated sexual assault of a child. Griffin's public defender entered pleas of not guilty on her behalf to all charges.

Griffin came to the attention of authorities during a human trafficking investigation that led to a court-authorized search of a house in April 2018 on Meadow Lane in New Boston, Texas. Texas Department of Public Safety investigators were looking for evidence in a case involving the home's owner, John Littleton.

Littleton died before he could face trial on charges of child sexual abuse and human trafficking. Littleton's roommate, Charles Garton, 40, is currently serving a 160-year term for sexual abuse involving a 12-year-old. Another defendant, Kenneth Nelson, is serving five life sentences for human trafficking involving teen girls he traded cash and drugs for sex.

While searching Littleton's home, investigators discovered a videocassette tape labeled with a girl's name. The tape contained multiple recordings of Littleton sexually assaulting an obviously underage girl whom investigators were able to identify and interview.

Officers were able to date one of the recordings because a news report, playing in the background, announced that Lisa Marie Presley filed for divorce from Michael Jackson. That news was made public in January 1996, more than 23 years ago.

The woman, who was a 14-year-old girl when the recordings were made with Littleton, told investigators Littleton began molesting her when she was 11 after she was introduced to him by Griffin. Griffin is allegedly seen in some of the recordings and was allegedly operating the camera.

The woman told investigators Griffin often drove her to local motels and other locations where Littleton would pay Griffin so he could have sex with the girl. The woman reported that she was often given alcohol and drugs before and during the encounters.

Griffin is in Bowie County custody. She was arrested June 28 following a missed court appearance before Tidwell for a pre-indictment hearing in the case. At the time of her arrest, Griffin was allegedly in possession of a controlled substance. She faces a state jail felony charge in connection with that allegation.

Tidwell scheduled Griffin to return to court in late August.

She faces two to 20 years on each of the four counts of sexual assault of a child and five to 99 years or life in prison if found guilty of aggravated sexual assault of a child.

Bond on each of the sexual assault charges is set at $75,000. Bond on the aggravated charge is set at $100,000. Griffin is being held in the Bowie County jail.

 

llarowe@texarkanagazette.com

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