Coker Sentences Child Molestor to 50 Years in TDC, LIVINGSTON, November 1, 2009 - In partial reckoning for years of sexual abuse suffered by a young PolkCounty girl, John Corban Ogletree, 30, was sentenced on Tuesday to fifty years in the Texas Department of Corrections. He will not be eligible for parole until 2034. The child, now 18, endured years of abuse beginning at approximately eight years of age.
The child's parents divorced when she was very young and the mother moved to the Goodrich area from their home near Fort Worth and began "home schooling" Jane Doe (a court pseudonym) and her siblings. She also began a pattern of systematically withholding the children from visitation with their father. Once here the mother married a PolkCounty man who for the next two years repeatedly sexually abused Jane. The mother refused to believe her when told of the assaults. When Jane was about ten or eleven her stepfather died, reportedly of a heart attack.
At that point his friend, John Ogletree, moved into the home and stayed there for three to four months. Mr. Ogletree raped Jane, according to her statement, twenty to thirty times, causing her great physical pain. Jane related that at first she fought him, but when she saw that she could not resist his attacks she simply relented and cried herself to sleep afterwards. She told her mother of these assaults also, but again her mother refused to believe her.
Between the ages of eleven and thirteen Jane was brutally sexually molested on two occasions by her sister's husband. These attacks occurred at her sister's home, first in San Antonio, and then in Houston. Jane's mother convinced her to "handle it within the family."
In later teenage years Jane was employed by a local business. When John Ogletree entered the business one day, Jane became terrified. A short time later she saw her brother-in-law at a local convenience store. His presence in PolkCounty violated the family "agreement." Fearful the attacks would begin again, Jane called her father. He immediately traveled to PolkCounty and took her home with him.
After a few weeks with her father she told him of the abuse. He immediately contacted the authorities. In a video interview with Polk County Sheriff's Investigator Craig Finegan, Ogletree at first denied any sexual contact with the child, then stated the child made advances toward him that he tried to resist. Under deft questioning by Detective Finegan, Ogletree finally admitted he had committed the offenses as accused. Nevertheless, he insisted that it had only happened five to ten times and insisted that the eleven year old child had consented willingly. Ogletree further asserted that he believed Jane was thirteen. When asked by Detective Finegan if he stopped to think that having sex with even a thirteen year old was wrong, Ogletree replied, "it never crossed my mind."
After indictment by the grand jury, Ogletree pled guilty with his attorney and requested that he be sentenced by district judge Elizabeth Coker. On October 27, 2009 a punishment hearing was held. The State was represented by Assistant District Attorney, Joe Martin and presented a pre-sentence investigation prepared by the PolkCounty probation department. According to the report Ogletree, while now conceding what he did was wrong, never showed any remorse for his actions. Detective Finegan also testified.
Ogletree did not testify. Ogletree's mother did testify, stating her son was diagnosed with dyslexia and other learning disorders at an early age. She testified that while he did graduate from high school he was not in mainstream classes. Under cross examination she acknowledged she does not believe dyslexia or learning disorders are an excuse for sexual abuse, that her son had been taught morals and that his abuse of Jane was a choice. She also acknowledged her son has been self supporting since graduating from high school, being employed in a variety of jobs, including operating heavy equipment. He was employed as a laborer in the oil fields at the time of the sentencing.
Ogletree's mother could not explain his statement that "itnever crossed my mind" that it was wrong to have sex with a child. However, she testified he had expressed tremendous remorse to her. Further, since he has been released on bond on this case he has lived at home with his parents and she is sure he will not re-offend. She is certain because she often has young girls visiting at her home and Ogletree refuses to have anything to do with them. Nonetheless, she did admit her son would not likely have committed these offenses against Jane if she had been present. She admitted the remorse expressed to her could be more related to sorrow at being caught.
Ogletree's attorney asked that Judge Coker sentence him to probation, citing his learning disorders and his confession and plea of guilty, thus saving the child from testifying and the State from a trial. In response Martin pointed out that despite his learning disorders Ogletree knew enough to initially deny his crime. Excusing or minimizing his behavior because of these disorders would be an insult to all other decent, law abiding citizens who suffer from the same maladies.
Martin further argued Ogletree had only confessed after prodding from Mr. Finegan and even then the "confession" had not been complete. Martin additionally asserted Ogletree was extremely likely to repeat his crime since he seemed to only know it was wrong after he had been caught and that Ogletree had "taken from Jane that which no man has a right to take, her future and her hope." Following the remarks of counsel, Judge Coker quickly announced her sentence of fifty years in prison.
In a press release to the media, the District Attorney's Office expressed great satisfaction with the sentence and the work of the Polk County Sheriff's Office. Martin stated, "Detective Finegan's interview of John Ogletree was the linchpin in obtaining this conviction. Without it we would have had a tough time considering the age of the case and the vagaries of any sexual abuse victim's ability to testify. Craig does an expert job interviewing these offenders and we are very happy to have him working with us. Jane's family is most appreciative of the seriousness this sentence demonstrates. For years she has felt like no adults other than her father and stepmother really cared about her abuse. Her mother has made statements that she does not believe it happened, in spite of Ogletree's confession. It is very important to the healing of the victims of these kinds of cases for them to know the system really cares about them. That is exactly why our office puts so much effort into sexual abuse prosecution." Martin stated the District Attorney's Office had considered filing endangerment charges on Jane's mother. However, after discussing this with the family it is believed that such charges, while certainly deserved, are not in Jane's best interest . A felony indictment of Sexual Indecency with a Child against the brother-in-law is still pending in HarrisCounty.
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