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Mistrial declared in Brownwood physician's trial

FORT WORTH -- A mistrial was declared Friday in the aggravated sexual assault trial of Brownwood physician Donald Delmer Pope after a Tarrant County jury was unable to unanimously decide whether he molested an 8-year-old girl in an Arlington hotel room in 2000.

Visiting Judge Jerry Woodlock declared the mistrial after the all-male jury told him they were deadlocked 11-1 after deliberating over three days in Criminal District Court 4.

Pope, 54, was accused of molesting the daughter of one of his employees during a July 2000 trip to Arlington with his own daughter, who also was 8 years old at the time.

The girl, now 16, said she, Pope and his daughter stayed in a hotel for two days while visiting Six Flags, Wet ‘N Wild, a Texas Rangers game and other tourist attractions.

Pope’s daughter, also 16 now, testified that her father slept in one bed and she and the other girl slept in the other bed during their trip to Arlington.

But Pope’s accuser said that Pope had his finger inside her vagina when she awoke in the middle of the night. She said she rolled off the bed and got into the other bed.

The girl said she didn’t tell anyone about the sex abuse at the time because she was afraid her mother would be fired and she “didn’t want to go through all of this.” She was referring to the investigation and trial that occurred after she told a church camp counselor about the abuse when she was 14.

But Pope’s attorneys, Mark Daniel and Kirby Roberts, called several witnesses who testified that the girl didn’t behave like an abuse victim. The witnesses -- most employees of Pope -- testified that the girl raved about the trip and expressed her desire to take another trip with Pope and his daughter. She also continued to hang around Pope’s office, see him as a patient, hug him and give him her school photos after the trip, they testified.

Shortly before her accusation, the girl even asked one of Pope’s employees if she thought the doctor might let her work in his office that summer.

In closing arguments, however, prosecutors Alana Minton and Bill Vassar questioned why the girl would make up the abuse allegation. They also pointed to testimony from a counselor who said that the girl was believable and noted that not all child abuse victims react the same way to abuse.