Teen pleads guilty to sexually assaulting 8-year-old girl

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An 18-year-old Karnack, Texas, man was sentenced to 10 years in prison Monday after pleading guilty to aggravated sexual assault of a child in Bowie County.

J’Rome Shepard, who is related to the victim, was visiting the girl’s family at their home in Bowie County during May 2016, according to a probable cause affidavit. The young girl’s mother told investigators with the Bowie County Sheriff’s Office that she began questioning her daughter after noticing she was “acting differently.”

The girl reported that Shephard, who the child refers to as “Bone,” made her perform a sex act on him several times and that he attempted to assault her sexually in other ways as well. The girl claimed Shephard made her “pinky swear” that she wouldn’t tell about the abuse and that he told her she would be in trouble if anyone learned of it.

A pillow case from the girl’s home was collected as evidence in the case based on statements made by the child May 25 during a forensic interview at the Children’s Advocacy Center in Texarkana. The girl told staff at the advocacy center that Shepard told her he had engaged in sexual conduct with her 13-year-old cousin as well.

Shepard appeared Monday morning before 202nd District Judge John Tidwell with Chief Public Defender Rick Shumaker. Shepard, who was 17 when the allegations surfaced, has been in custody since his arrest more than a year ago.

First Assistant District Attorney Michael Sheperd appeared on behalf of the state.

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