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story.lead_photo.caption Della Lou Griffin

NEW BOSTON, Texas — A woman who accepted money in exchange for sex with a juvenile female relative pleaded guilty Tuesday to five felony sex offenses but is asking that a jury decide her punishment.

Della Lou Griffin, 53, entered pleas of guilty before 202nd District Judge John Tidwell to four counts of sexual assault of a child and a single count of aggravated sexual assault of a child Tuesday with the help of Assistant Public Defender Clayton Haas. A jury of six men and six women was chosen Tuesday to decide what Griffin's punishment should be.

Griffin faces two to 20 years on each of the four counts of sexual assault of a child. Aggravated sexual assault of a child is punishable by five to 99 years or life in prison. Griffin must now register as a sex offender.

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 seen in some of the recordings and was 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.

A punishment-only trial is expected to begin Wednesday morning at the Bowie County courthouse in New Boston before Tidwell. First Assistant District Attorney Kelley Crisp and Assistant District Attorney Lauren Richards are prosecuting.

 

llarowe@texarkanagazette.com

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