A 40-year-old Longview man was sentenced to six years in prison Thursday for exposing himself to a 16-year-old girl at a snow cone stand.

Joshua Johnathan Barger was charged with felony indecency with a child by exposure related to an incident June 1, 2020. He entered an open guilty plea Thursday in the 188th District Court. During an open plea, the state and defense have not come to an agreement, and each side may present evidence to the judge for sentencing.

After hearing from witnesses and viewing White Oak police body camera footage, Judge Scott Novy sentenced Barger to six years in prison.

“I think you need help,” Novy said, referring to statements from Assistant District Attorney Todd Smith and Barger’s attorney, Steve Smith.

According to testimony, Barger had his pants at his ankles and was touching himself when he pulled up to the drive-thru of the snow cone stand where the teen was working.

Novy said he ordered a banana-flavored snow cone.

“That’s thought out,” Novy said during sentencing. “There’s some symbolism there.”

According to testimony, White Oak police officer Brian Russell returned days later to the snow cone stand after another report Barger had exposed himself. In body camera footage of an officer talking to Barger at his home, Barger repeatedly shook his head when he was asked why he exposed himself.

Barger was arrested and booked into Gregg County Jail on June 17, 2020, and was indicted by a grand jury the following August.

The child’s father, a law enforcement officer, said during testimony that his daughter is involved in church and school activities, is a National Honor Society student and spent her summer working at a church camp.

After the incident, he said she didn’t want to work at the snow cone stand by herself. Her mother sometimes waited in the parking lot during the girl’s shift. The teen also received counseling following the encounter with Barger, her father said.

Barger’s attorney, Steve Smith, argued for a deferred adjudication and psychological treatment for Barger. He emphasized during closing statements that the girl was 16 years and 9 months old, “as close to 17 as you can be.”

He argued that had she been 17, the charge would be a misdemeanor not a felony.

“She was almost an adult,” Steve Smith Said.

He also claimed that since the girl seems to be doing well in life, the incident did not affect her too severely.

The assistant district attorney disagreed and said the county has a duty to protect women and children.

“Developing coping skills and having a good family does not negate the actions of (Barger),” Todd Smith said. As far as the argument of her age, Smith said it was “insulting to the women of Gregg County.”

He asked for 10 years in prison.

“You shouldn’t be doing this at all,” Novy said. “It’s disgusting.”

If Barger commits another similar offense, he could be sent to prison for life, Novy said. Barger, who also has a misdemeanor indecent exposure charge pending from 2019, will be required to register as a sex offender.

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Courtney Stern is a public safety reporter covering a wide range of topics. She grew up in Baltimore and later earned a journalism degree from the University of Miami. Stern moved to East Texas from Iowa with her husband and two dogs, Pebbles and Bam Bam.