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Police: Child sex abuse cases not uncommon

By Richard Yeakley
Nov. 28, 2012 at 11 p.m.

Five East Texans were in the Gregg County Jail on Wednesday, each arrested within the past 10 days and charged with the assault of a child.

While the incidents are disturbing, officials said it is about par for the course.

Roxanne Stevenson, executive director of The Martin House Child Advocacy Center, which assists law enforcement, said she does not believe more child abuse is occurring, but rather more people are now willing to report it.

The organization assists in hundreds of child abuse cases per year.

"In our last fiscal year, we helped 426 children from Gregg and Harrison counties," Stevenson said.

Stacey Brownlee, Gregg County assistant district attorney, said the office provides an attorney who specializes in abuse cases.

In an effort to combat child abuse, the U.S. Senate this week passed the Child Protection Act of 2012, which increased the maximum penalties for child pornography convictions and protects child victims who testify against their abusers.

The Child Protection Act of 2012 now awaits the signature of President Barack Obama to become law.

"This is an example that Congress can get some important things done," said Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, who helped spearhead the bill.

Although the bill was originally designed to discourage child sex trafficking, several provisions in the act extend to all victims of child sexual abuse.

The five people arrested in Gregg County since Nov. 19 help draw a picture of the bill's importance:

Nov. 19: Gladewater police arrest Ronald Dison, 51, of Gladewater, and charge him with indecency with a child sexual contact, accusing him of touching a 6-year-old girl.

Nov. 20: Peggy Weinberg, 26, and Cassandra Stone, 32, of Kilgore, are arrested. They, along with Jesse Smith, who was previously arrested, are accused of molesting a 2-year-old. According to a criminal complaint, Weinberg was with her boyfriend, Smith, and her friend Stone at a residence when "Peggy, Jesse and Cassie were all doing drugs and decided to have sex with each other." According to arrest documents, investigators discovered the abuse of the child after finding images of pornography on Smith's camera.

Nov. 21: Christopher Townsend, 34, of Longview, is arrested and charged with sexually molesting a 10-year-old girl.

Nov. 22: White Oak police arrest Guillermo Morales, 17, of White Oak, on suspicion that he sexually assaulted a 3-year-old. According to a criminal complaint, Morales locked himself in a room with the child.

Lt. Kirk Haddix said every case involving abuse of a child is troubling.

"I would like to say it's the most perverse I have seen in recent months," Haddix said of Weinberg's arrest. "But in the last three or four months we have had several (cases), and every one of them is bad."



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