NEW BOSTON, Texas: A New Boston man who shared photos of himself raping a 2-year-old girl pleaded guilty Tuesday in Bowie County and received a life sentence.
Joseph Clinton Leatherman Jr., 30, pleaded guilty to aggravated sexual assault of a child and possession of child pornography. As part of his plea agreement, a 10-year sentence Leatherman received for possession of child pornography will run at the same time as his life sentence for aggravated sexual assault.
Leatherman emailed five sexually graphic photos of himself raping the child via AOL in 2016. AOL notified the Dallas Police Department about the offensive images after flagging the images Aug. 9, 2016, according to a probable cause affidavit.
The images were sent by infantryman903@aol and were linked by investigators to Leatherman’s email account. They depict a man wearing unique camouflage underwear and the young girl in a sexual pose. The underwear, Leatherman’s body and hands, and an unusual birthmark on the child’s body were used to identify both suspect and victim.
Investigators found the distinctive underwear during a search of Leatherman’s home Aug. 11, 2016. A relative of Leatherman’s and the girl’s identified the child in the photos as well as Leatherman. A cell phone found in Leatherman’s pocket at the time of his arrest contained pornographic images of children as well.
Leatherman appeared with Dallas lawyer Gary Unell before 102nd District Judge Bobby Lockhart on Tuesday afternoon. Had Leatherman taken his case to trial, he could have received a sentence of life without parole possible. Leatherman must serve at least 30 years before he can even be considered for parole.
The case was investigated by Texas Department of Public Safety, FBI, Dallas police and Texarkana, Texas, Police Department. Assistant District Attorney Kelley Crisp said the members of law enforcement who worked the case did an exemplary job and said the case is among the worst child sex abuse cases she has seen.
The victim’s mother testified Tuesday that her daughter has experienced night terrors during which she cries out for help. She also listed the names of three other girls Leatherman is thought to have sexually abused as very young children when they were unable to ask for help.
“I only hope she doesn’t remember the disgusting things you did to her,” the mother said. “Even if you spend the rest of your life in jail it is not even enough to punish you for what you’ve done. The only true justice will come the day you are cast into hell.”