A Tom Green County jury on Thursday found a San Angelo man guilty of continuous sexual abuse of a child and sentenced him to 28 years in prison.
Tucker Wayne McCrea, 33, was found guilty after four hours of deliberation. The offense is a first-degree felony, punishable by 25 to 99 years or life in prison.
The punishment phase of the trial began immediately after the guilty verdict was reached. The 28-year sentence must be served in full, without the possibility of parole. YES!
McCrea was indicted in May 2014 for abuse that began about June 1, 2008, and continued through about June 1, 2010. The victim, now 12, told her mother McCrea had touched her on several occasions, the first time when she was about 6.
51st District First Assistant District Attorney John Best, who prosecuted the case, said McCrea was a friend of the girl’s father and would stay at the house for extended periods.
Court documents listed one incident in which the girl said McCrea walked in while she was in the shower and touched her “private parts.” In another incident, when her father was out of his house, the girl said McCrea was watching a movie with her and started touching her again.
Prerecorded testimony from the girl, provided by Hope House, was shown in court. The girl’s mother also testified, saying she was angry and surprised when her daughter revealed the abuse in 2013.
“It’s changed who she was. It made her shy,” the girl’s mother said. “It made her afraid of things she wasn’t afraid of before.”
McCrea, who was released on a $30,000 surety bond in May 2014, will be taken back into custody and confined in a Texas Department of Criminal Justice penitentiary.
McCrea was represented by local attorney Jimmy Stewart. 51st District Judge Barbara Walther presided over the trial.
Girl's courageous testimony
Earlier in the day, the girl suffered through an excruciating testimony. Some of her experience included:
Her testimony began swiftly, as she was eager to relay how she loved her school and her family, but it slowed to a stonewall about 30 minutes in as discussion turned toward Tucker McCrea. Sitting at the witness stand with a small lime green bear before her, the near-teen acknowledged that there had been a man—her dad’s friend—staying at the house during those summers, and she knew his name. But when she was asked to say it, the child’s face froze in solemn timidity. She lowered her head slightly and stared straight ahead, not once daring a glance across the courtroom at the defendant, not opening her mouth for filler speech.
State’s prosecutor and 51st First Assistant District Attorney John Best tried to coax her, asking if she knew who it was and directing the question-and-answer exchange to more comfortable topics before coming back to ask for the name. Still, the child withdrew; she didn’t dare say it out loud. After several minutes, Best approached the witness with a sheet of paper and a pen. He offered them, and she wrote down a name, but she couldn’t bring herself to repeat it out loud. “Does it say Tucker?” he asked, glancing down at the sheet. “Yes,” she replied softly. She then managed to utter his last name quietly, admitting she didn’t know how to spell it and wasn’t sure if the pronunciation was right.
“McCrea,” she said in a near whisper.
She was on the stand for nearly two hours before she had to take a break, overcome with emotion and unable to speak. By then, the prosecutor had narrowed his line of questioning to the alleged abuse, alternating between open-ended questions that were met with silence like, ‘what happened the first time he did something to you,’ and restricting to questions she could answer with simple words and phrases, such as, ‘did he touch you’ and ‘did he use his hands’.
The girl managed to relay that the first instance occurred at her father’s house in the shower and that he had touched her with his hands, but was reluctant to say more. She bore a muted expression of shame and meekness, like she wanted to say more but couldn’t make herself do so. She recalled for the jury how she told her mom of the abuse after reading a pamphlet called “Sam’s Secret” as part of the radKIDS program, a program dedicated to educating children on safety.
That summer she stayed one night with a friend, a sleepover that ended abruptly with the flicking of light switches. “She kept turning off all the lights and I kept telling her I was scared of the dark,” the girl said. Eventually, as the switch flicking persisted, the little girl called her father to pick her up. “The next day, she asked me why I was scared of the dark, and I told her I had been touched wrongly, and instead of helping me…she laughed at me,” the child said. That was the first time the little girl had told anyone about what had happened to her in her dad’s trailer, she said, and when she saw her friend laughing, she said she felt as if no one would ever believe her.
The abuse, she said, almost always happened in the dark. At 11:05 a.m., discussion had turned back to the bathroom, the shower. The girl was weary and reluctant to answer even the most delicately-phrased questions, and had retreated into herself, responding only occasionally with forced whispers. It wasn’t a place she wanted to go. Judge Barbara Walther called for a recess and, after about 30 minutes, a decision was made to continue the testimony with the support of the child’s counselor, who had been instructed to sit at her side but not to speak or guide her testimony.
When testimony resumed, the 12-year-old got off to a good start, quickly responding with short answers as Best posed questions about that night in the summer of 2009. Gradually, the girl began to relate accounts of five separate instances in which McCrea had abused her, beginning in the shower in early summer, continuing through her father’s birthday on July 5, and concluding around the time her mother got home from prison in late August 2009. The various accounts took place in the shower, in her bedroom as she lay sleeping at night, in the living room when her father and roommate had run out to Walmart and in the backyard swimming pool, she said.
Her testimony slowed as she dredged up the memories, and the girl often became confused, having difficulty recalling and repeating when and how the abuse had occurred. She told the jury McCrea had used his hands and mouth to touch her “privates” and “chestal area” and said she had once seen McCrea’s genitalia when he asked her to perform an act in the shower.
This little girl is my hero this week for being so incredibly brave. God bless you, Sweetie, I pray you get the help you need to recover completely from your terrible experiences.