Grand jury indicts New Boston man for
human trafficking, child sex abuse,
possession of child pornography
TEXARKANA, TX – A Bowie County grand jury Thursday indicted a New Boston, Texas, man for the alleged sexual abuse of his girlfriend’s teen daughter.
Robert Allen Smith, 34, was indicted for two counts of sexual assault of a child and single counts of continuous trafficking of persons and possession of child pornography. The abuse allegedly occurred while the girl was 15 to 17 years old.
According to a probable cause affidavit, Smith would send the girl a text message telling her to take a shower when he wanted to sexually abuse her. The girl told authorities that Smith would come in the bathroom and sexually abuse her.
The girl described being sexually assaulted and sodomized and alleged that Smith would ask that she urinate on his face. The girl allegedly told a forensic interviewer at the Texarkana Children’s Advocacy Center that Smith took nude photos of her in the bathroom of her mother’s home with a drone that he held in one hand while working the controls with the other.
The girl reported that Smith traveled with her across state lines during a summer while he was working as a commercial truck driver and that he sexually abused her in various locations during the trip. Images depicting the sexual exploitation of children were allegedly found after Smith’s electronic devices were seized by law enforcement.
If convicted of child pornography possession, Smith faces two to 10 years in prison. If convicted of sexual assault of a child, Smith faces two to 10 years on each of two counts. If found guilty of trafficking, Smith faces 25 to 99 years or life in prison.
There is no parole eligibility from a sentence for human trafficking in Texas. Smith must serve the entire amount of any sentence he receives.
The case is assigned to 202nd District Judge John Tidwell. First Assistant District Attorney Kelley Crisp and Assistant District Attorney Lauren Richards are prosecuting. Smith is represented by the Bowie County Public Defenders Office.
AG Paxton Issues Consumer Alert on
Social Security Scam
AUSTIN, TX – Attorney General Ken Paxton today warned Texans to beware of calls from scam artists pretending to be with the Social Security Administration (SSA) and attempting to fool unsuspecting people into giving them their Social Security number and money.
Recently, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) received a large number of complaints from consumers targeted by the Social Security scam. Crooks tell the would-be victim that their Social Security number has been used in a crime and they must pay a fee to reactivate it or to get a new number. During the call, the person is asked to give out their Social Security number.
In other instances of the scam, individuals are told that their bank accounts have been seized and they should transfer their money to the caller for safe keeping, or that they could lose their Social Security benefits because their Social Security number was used to apply for credit cards.
Attorney General Paxton’s Consumer Protection Division reminds Texans that the Social Security Administration will never call and ask for a person’s Social Security number, request money, or threaten someone’s benefits. Be sure to follow these tips from the FTC:
Never give your Social Security number to anyone who contacts you. Don’t confirm the last 4 digits. And don’t give a bank account or credit card number to anybody who contacts you asking for it.
Don’t be fooled by caller ID showing the SSA’s real phone number (1-800-772-1213). Computers make it easy for scam artists to show any number on caller ID, a technique called spoofing.
Remember that anyone who calls and tells you to wire money, pay with a gift card or send cash is a scammer, no matter who they say they are.
AG Paxton Urges HHS to Repeal Rule that
Violates the Religious Liberty of Texas’
Faith-Based Foster Care and Adoption
AUSTIN, TX – In a letter today to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Attorney General Ken Paxton urged prompt repeal of an Obama-era rule that violates the religious liberty of Texas’ faith-based foster care and adoption service providers by requiring them to abandon their core religious beliefs as a condition of receiving federal funding under Title IV-E of the Social Security Act.
“People of faith should not be required to forfeit their sincerely held religious beliefs as a condition of helping Texas’ most vulnerable children,” Attorney General Paxton said. “We’re asking HHS to repeal its unlawful rule on child welfare funding or, alternatively, grant the state of Texas an exemption from the rule.”
Attorney General Paxton, in his letter to Lynn Johnson, the assistant secretary at HHS’s Administration for Children and Families, pointed out that the rule on Title IV-E funding exceeds statutory authority, violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and conflicts with Texas law.
Last session, the Texas Legislature enacted House Bill 3859, which protects the religious liberty of child welfare organizations and prohibits the state from granting or refusing to grant funding to such organizations because of their religious beliefs, including the belief that marriage is between a man and a woman.
Texas’ share of Title IV-E funding is administered by the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) through its Child Protective Services, which works with secular and faith-based communities to find loving homes for children removed from their homes due to abuse and neglect.
Some faith-based providers who receive Title IV-E funding through DFPS require potential foster care or adoptive parents to share a particular religious faith, be a member of a congregation, or agree to the provider’s statement of faith. But the federal rule requires those organizations to abandon their deeply held religious beliefs as a condition of receiving funding.
Police: Mom charged with abuse tried to
have child kidnapped
RALEIGH, NC – A North Carolina woman already charged with child abuse is accused of trying to convince someone to abduct her daughter from her foster home and hide her in Florida until she turns 18.
The News & Observer reports 47-year-old Russell Jay Smith and 38-year-old Lindsey Michelle Smith were charged earlier this year with child abuse for inflicting “serious mental injury” on their pre-teen daughter for more than two years.
They were accused of putting her through “extreme isolation,” forcing her to remain standing for hours, forbidding her from speaking to her siblings and failing to provide her with adequate education.
Lindsey Smith is now charged with soliciting someone to commit a felony and felony obstruction of justice. She’s been ordered held without bail.
AG Paxton’s Child Exploitation Unit Arrests
McLennan County Man for Possession of
AUSTIN, TX – Attorney General Ken Paxton today announced that the Child Exploitation Unit (CEU) of his office arrested 59-year-old Eddie Dwayne Pratt, of Robinson, on three counts of possession of child pornography, a third-degree felony.
Acting on a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children® (NCMEC), investigators from the attorney general’s office searched Pratt’s home, where they discovered images of child pornography.
They also confiscated multiple digital storage devices, which will be examined by the Digital Forensics Unit of the attorney general’s office.
During questioning, Pratt admitted to possessing child pornography.
Attorney General Paxton’s office works to protect children by using the latest technology to track down some of the most profoundly evil predators online.
The Child Exploitation Unit proactively seeks out and arrests predators who commit crimes against children using technology and online sources.
Attorney General Paxton urges all parents and teachers to become aware of the risks our children face on the internet and take steps to help ensure their children’s safety.
If you suspect someone is producing or downloading child pornography you can report it to NCMEC