A man who molested a 12-year-old boy with special needs received a 35-year prison term Monday morning as part of a plea bargain in Bowie County.
Javier Perez, 26, appeared Monday morning with Assistant Public Defender Clayton Haas for a hearing before 202nd District Judge John Tidwell on a charge of aggravated sexual assault of a child. Perez preyed on a 12-year-old autistic boy with serious medical conditions while both were at the Texarkana Public Library last June.
Before approving the plea arrangement, Tidwell asked prosecutors if the victim's family was aware of and in agreement with the state's offer. Should Perez have taken his case to a jury and been convicted, he faced a punishment range of five to 99 years or life in prison.
"We have on multiple occasions met with the family and the victim, as recently as last Friday we talked with them," First Assistant District Attorney Kelley Crisp said. "He is a special needs child with autism and medical conditions which are ongoing."
Crisp said the boy is currently in therapy and that professionals have expressed concern that testifying at a jury trial and facing Perez in court would create a "great setback" for the young victim.
"He's very traumatized," Crisp said. "The family has expressed their desire for a plea."
Tidwell remarked on the heinousness of Perez's conduct.
"Just the pure gravity of this case, the age of the victim, what this child has been put through already," Tidwell said. "This court doesn't want to put this child through anymore so I'm going to accept your plea. I cannot wrap my mind around what that child is going through. For the next 35 years I want you to think about that child."
Perez sat down at a table in the library where the boy was seated and showed him an image on his cell phone of a woman undressing. Staff at the library who were familiar with the victim became concerned after seeing Perez twice enter the bathroom together.
A male library employee entered the bathroom and called out after seeing to pairs of feet in a single stall. Perez was gone when police arrived but was later arrested at a local homeless shelter and has been behind bars since. The boy reported that he refused to pull down his pants when ordered to do so by Perez. Perez pulled the victim's pants down and sodomized the boy.
Upon his release from prison, Perez must register as a sex offender.