NEW BOSTON, Texas — Opening arguments and testimony began Monday afternoon at a high school auditorium in the trial of a Texarkana pastor accused of sexually abusing multiple women when they were young girls.
Logan Wesley III, entered pleas of not guilty to 18 felony counts before a jury that was selected Monday morning at the New Boston High School auditorium. The large auditorium allows for social distancing which would be difficult in the Bowie County courthouse in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A woman who says she was molested from age 13 into early adulthood after coming to live with Wesley described different alleged encounters with Wesley under questioning from Assistant District Attorney Lauren Richards. The woman, now 38, is related to Wesley and testified that she moved into his home on Phenie Street in Texarkana, Texas, when things with her mother became intolerable.
Under questioning from Richards, the woman testified that she first remembers Wesley assaulting her one night when she awoke from sleep in pain with him on top of her. She said she made outcries to adults, including her mother, but none would believe her.
"Everybody would act like I was crazy and making it up," the woman testified.
The woman testified that she once confronted Wesley when she was a teen and he punched her in the face, blackening her eye.
She testified that the following day, Wesley told parishioners at Trinity Temple Church of God in Christ in Texarkana, Arkansas, that the girl had hit him and he "wasn't going to let a kid run his house" and the congregation said, "Amen."
Under cross examination by Fayetteville, Arkansas, lawyer Brandon Pickett, who is defending Wesley along with Texarkana lawyer Josh Potter, the woman said another girl was at times in the room when Wesley assaulted her.
The husband of the alleged victim who testified Monday told the jury that he and his wife called Wesley in October last year. A recording of the call was played for the jury. On the call Wesley appears to confirm the abuse when asked by the woman if he knows how many times he assaulted her.
"One time was too many," Wesley said on the recording.
A former member of Wesley's church, Bobbie Jones, said she was driving several teen girls to "second service" when she overheard them discussing Wesley's alleged sexual misconduct. Jones said she told Wesley what the girls said and he took them into a room with some of the church elders and berated them as liars until Wesley's wife, Cynthia Wesley, said, "Let's just leave this alone."
The jury also heard testimony Monday from Texarkana Children's Advocacy Center Program Director Missy Davison under questioning by First Assistant District Attorney Kelley Crisp. Davison said she is not involved in any counseling with the alleged victims and testified in general about how child sex abuse victims can be groomed by their abusers into making "the abnormal seem normal."
The jury was placed in an evening recess at about 5 p.m. by 202 District Judge John Tidwell with instructions to return to the auditorium for a second day of trial Tuesday.
Wesley is charged with three counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child under 14, three counts of sexual assault of a child under 17 and one count of indecency with a child by sexual contact in connection with the woman who testified Monday.
Charges involving a second alleged victim include two counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child under 14 and five counts of sexual assault of a child under 17. Charges involving a third alleged victim include a single count of sexual assault of a child under 17 and three counts of indecency with a child by sexual contact.
The aggravated charges facing Wesley are punishable by five to 99 years or life in prison. The remaining charges are all punishable by two to 20 years if Wesley is found guilty.