FORT WORTH — A 49-year-old man was found guilty Thursday of blackmailing his ex-girlfriend’s 15-year-old daughter by using nude photos of her to coerce her into submitting to and remaining silent after as many as 14 sexual assaults between August and November 2012.Thomas Jefferson Smallwood Jr. was found guilty on six counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child and three counts of sexual assault of a child. Smallwood of Grand Prairie now faces a life prison sentence. He has elected to have state District Judge George Gallagher assess his sentence, according to an official with the Tarrant County district attorney’s office. It took the jury a little more than three hours to reach a verdict, but it took the victim more than six months before she could tell anyone how badly she was abused by Smallwood, a prosecutor said during her closing argument on Thursday.Heather Davenport, who prosecuted the case with assistant district attorney Jacob Mitchell, told the jury that Smallwood engaged in every type of sex imaginable with the teen, and then told police he was trying to save her from a blackmail plot in which he also was being victimized.Smallwood used the alias “Jay-lo” to trick the girl into sending him nude pictures of herself, and then used the pictures to blackmail her into having sex with him. The two began “sexting” using a picture sharing application on her cellphone, according to testimony earlier in the week.Smallwood, acting as Jay-lo, insisted that the teen have sex with him and make videotapes of the two of them in the act, according to testimony. If she refused, Jay-lo threatened to send her nude photos to friends, neighbors, classmates and her mother. The teen eventually realized that Jay-lo and Smallwood were the same person, prosecutors said.Paul Stuckle, Smallwood’s defense attorney, argued that prosecutors painted a false picture of the girl’s character.The teen was alienated from her parents, and Smallwood, who lived with the teen and her mother for more than nine years, was the only adult she trusted, Stuckle said.“We know she was involved in sexting, sending naked photographs of herself to strangers,” Stuckle said. “Her story’s illogical. And she continues to return to his house while all this terrible stuff keeps happening to her.”Allen Ayers, who also defended Smallwood, said his client is not the man of the year, but that he was trying to protect the girl by going along with the blackmail plot after he received nude pictures of her. Instead, the girl turned on Smallwood because she was afraid of getting in trouble with her mother and having her reputation ruined, Ayers said.Davenport, the prosecutor, told the jury that Smallwood is a manipulator and a liar. He did not try to protect the teen and threatened to kill her and her family members if she ever talked about the abuse he brought into her life, Davenport said.
Mitch Mitchell, 817-390-7752 Twitter: @mitchmitchel3