Judge sentences child predator to 45 years

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NEW BOSTON, Texas: A Bowie County district judge handed down a 45-year sentence Wednesday for a man who forcibly raped a 13-year-old girl last year.

Gary Tanner Royal, 19, who uses the name Tanner, pleaded guilty Wednesday to aggravated sexual assault of a child under 14 before 102nd District Judge Jeff Addison. Royal asked that the judge, rather than a jury, decide what sentence he should receive in the range of five to 99 years or life in prison.

Addison heard testimony Wednesday from the victim and from several other girls who were allegedly sexually assaulted by Royal when they were 13 and 14. The victim in the case for which Royal was sentenced to 45 years Thursday testified that she didn’t know Royal and thought she was just getting a ride to a baseball game when Royal stopped at his uncle’s home in Redwater where he raped her by force.

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The other girls testified that Royal groomed them, made them feel special or used his friendship with members of their families to take advantage of them. Addison also was provided evidence that Royal pleaded guilty at the age of 13 in Oklahoma to sexually abusing a 3-year-old girl and that he completed a 2-year residential sex offender treatment program.

Royal’s defense team, Deborah Moore and Clayton Haas of the Bowie County Public Defender’s Office, argued that Royal is a “kid” who showed a “lapse in judgment.”

Royal will not become eligible for parole until he has served at least one half of his sentence and he must register as a sex offender upon his release from prison.

“The primary victim in this case testified in horrific detail how Tanner Royal violently raped her in January of 2018. She explained that she was repeatedly telling him no when he took her clothes off and forced himself on her,” said First Assistant District Attorney Kelley Crisp. “The Court also heard testimony from three other sexual assault victims, all of whom Royal admitted to assaulting in a jail phone call to one of his friends. In determining the appropriate sentence for Royal, the Judge was also presented with evidence that this Defendant plead guilty to sexually assaulting a three-year-old female relative when he was a juvenile. In light of the heinous nature of this crime, and the Defendant’s history as a sex offender, Judge Addison’s decision to sentence Royal to a lengthy prison term of 45 years is a just and right verdict.”

Assistant District Attorney Randle Smolarz represented the state as well.

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