A Fort Worth father who sexually assaulted his oldest son and daughter by giving them lessons in sex was sentenced Thursday to 45 years in prison.
According to his son and daughter’s testimony this week, thefather gave his two oldest children lessons in performing sexual acts. Their father, Michael, said the school system did not teach sex correctly and he needed to step in, the children testified.
The Star-Telegram is identifying the defendant only by his first name. The newspaper typically does not identify victims in sexual assault cases,and using the father’s full name might identify the children.
The children said their father used vibrators and massagers as instructional tools and then showed them how the tools are supposed to be used. The lessons started in 2013 when his daughter was 7, prosecutors said.
Defense attorneys argued that Michael’s wife, bitter and angry after being served divorce papers, told the children what to say about their father so she could maintain custody of them.
A jury of six men and six women began deliberating his guilt about 10:35 a.m. Thursday. They took less than an hour to reach a guilty verdict and less than 90 minutes to assess a sentence.
Michael, 39, was charged with multiple counts of continuous sexual assault of a child under 14. He faced a sentence of 25 to 99 years in prison or life on each count. He and his wife have four children ranging in age from 7 to 10.
At least six instances of sexual assault occurred in 2013 and 2014, Tarrant County prosecutor Elizabeth Kamber said.
Michael’s wife has also been charged with continuous sexual assault of a child under 14. She is in the Tarrant County jail awaiting trial, according to court records.
Both children testified that their parents asked them not to say anything to anyone or else the parents would get in trouble.
Defense attorney Rustin Brunson asked for mercy for his client, but co-prosecutor Andrea Risinger argued that Michael did not deserve any mercy. Michael’s children, his family, have been scarred for life, Risinger said.
“He showed his own flesh and blood no mercy,” Risinger said. “Don’t you know when [Michael’s daughter] wants to have that first consensual relationship with a man, she’ll be thinking about how her father violated her.
“Don’t you know when [Michael’s son] wants to have that first consensual relationship with a woman, he’ll be thinking about how his father made him have sex with his mother.”
The children came in and told the truth knowing it would decimate their family and send their mother and father to jail, maybe for the rest of their lives, Risinger said.
“These two children came in and told you what they suffered at his hands,” Risinger said. “He was supposed to protect them. But instead of protecting them, he did this.”
Jim Ross, Michael’s other defense attorney, wanted the jury to focus on the timing of the outcry. Michael and his wife were married for 10 years without a hint of any type of impropriety, and then he filed for divorce.
Ross also pointed out that the state presented no physical evidence during trial.
Ross said the day after Michael’s wife was served with the divorce paperwork that threatened to take away her children, his daughter made the first sexual assault outcry against him. The outcry from Michael’s son came about a year later, Ross said.
The divorce petition was filed June 11, 2014, according to court records. On June 23, 2014, Michael's oldest daughter was interviewed by Connie Martin, who worked with the Alliance for Children in Tarrant County, a nonprofit child advocacy center.
As investigators continued their interviews, Michael’s wife was implicated in the crime, Ross said.
“In attempting to keep Michael from getting the children, [the mother] convinced [her daughter] to make an outcry and it got away from her,” Ross said. “What you’ve seen is a fearful wife and mother who was afraid she was losing custody of her kids, who got her daughter to make an outcry and she got caught up in it.”