Teen pleads not guilty to 10 felony sexual assaults

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An 18-year-old man accused of sexually abusing four 13 and 14-year-old girls entered pleas of not guilty Tuesday in Bowie County to 10 felonies.

Gary “Tanner” Royal appeared before 102nd District Judge Bobby Lockhart for arraignment on five counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child and five counts of sexual assault of a child Tuesday afternoon at the Bi-State Justice Center in Texarkana. Bowie County Public Defender Deborah Moore entered pleas of not guilty for Royal.

Assistant District Attorney Kelley Crisp said she expects that a fourth alleged victim whom Royal allegedly assaulted in Oklahoma while a juvenile may be called to testify against Royal in the Bowie County cases. Crisp said she is working to acquire records concerning the out-of-state allegations and may need an order from Lockhart to get them.

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Crisp said she intends to present one of the cases of sexual assault to a Bowie County grand jury for a second time. Crisp said that after considering the charges involving one of the 13-year-old girls, she believes the case could be indicted as an aggravated child sexual assault, a more serious crime with a stiffer penalty.

Sexual assault of a child is punishable by two to 20 years in prison while aggravated sexual assault of a child is punishable by five to 99 years or life, with parole possible.

The alleged victims reported that Royal became sexually aggressive with them after getting them alone. One of the victims reported getting a text from Royal asking her to keep quiet while she was being interviewed at the request of law enforcement. Parents of one of the girls were allegedly alerted to a possible sexual assault by school personnel who noticed large areas of bruising on the girl’s legs during an athletic period.

Royal is currently being housed in the Bowie County jail. Bail is set at $300,000. Royal is scheduled to appear again before Lockhart on Nov. 6.

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