By Morgan Thomas - email
JASPER, TX (KTRE) - A Jasper County preacher is in jail on a charge of sexual assault of a child after it was learned he had carried on a years-long relationship with a 16-year-old girl, according to the Jasper County Sheriff's Office.
Capt. Robert Walker said the wife of Donnie Smith Jr., 37, found text messages and photos on his phone from a now 16-year-old girl. The wife told authorities about it and Smith confessed to having sex with the girl on several occasions, Walker said.
Smith is in jail with a $101,000 bond.
It was in a Peachtree-area trailer that authorities say Smith sexually assaulted his teenage victim.
"Our neighbor that [stays] up the street... He [saw] him coming down here about 3 o'clock in the morning," family friend Douglas Spikes said.
"He was wrong for it because he was married," Spikes said. "She was too young."
The Jasper County Sheriff's Office got involved when Smith's own wife contacted them.
Another family friend believes "behind bars" is exactly where the minister should be.
"He finally arrested because he was raping people and when you rape people you supposed to be in jail," Gary Smith said.
Walker appreciates Smith's wife for coming forward.
"At least she stood up and said something," Walker said. "Most times it's hid."
The Jasper County Sheriff's Office is coming down hard on crimes against children.
"It's getting out that something is being done about it," Walker said.
Walker hopes that prosecuting offenders will encourage more victims and witnesses to speak out to law enforcement.