Verdict, Sentence Come Down In East Texas Sex Ring Trial - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

03/27/08 - Tyler

Verdict, Sentence Come Down In East Texas Sex Ring Trial

(KLTV) TYLER - The verdict and sentence has arrived today in the trial of Jamie Pittman, the first of six people to be charged in the 'Mineola Swinger's Club' child sex ring trial. Pittman, on trial for aggravated sexual assault of a child as young as five years old, was found guilty on the charge today in the Smith County, Texas courthouse, and was sentenced the maximum punishment - life in prison and a fine of $10,000.

In March of 2005, Child Protective Services began investigating Pittman and five others for allegations of neglect, drug abuse, and sexual abuse. In the course of the investigation, they realized they were on to something much bigger.

After a two year investigation, six people were arrested and charged with felonies, including Jamie Pittman, Shauntel Loraine Mayo, 29, Patrick Stephen Kelly, 41, and Dennis Boyd Pittman, 45, all of Tyler, Texas; Shelia Darlene Sones, 48, Mineola; and Jimmy Dale Sones, 33, of Brownsboro, Texas.

The victims in the case include four children, three of them siblings. The fourth child was an aunt of the siblings. The children were just 5, 6, and 7 when the abuse occurred.

The verdict came down just hours after several children took the stand and testified in graphic detail how they were forced to strip, dance, and have sexual contact with other children - including siblings - and other adults for money and food. The children were also forced to videotape sexual encounters and were threatened with the withholding of food for 'a week' if they did not comply.

The children were forced to perform 'skits' with one another on a stage in a building that had previously been used as a daycare, but was bought by the defendant and used as a club for the children to perform in. The adults involved in the case also held 'kindergarten' for the children, in which they learned to perform sex acts, first on dolls, then on each other. They were also given 'silly pills' because they were told by the adults that they performed better while they were on them.

"Even with the words from the witness stand, you can't really describe exactly what these little kids were going through, what they were put through, what they were forced to do at the hands of those that were supposed to protect them," said Assistant District Attorney Joe Murphy, who helped prosecute the case.

Since the children have been removed from the home, some have had behavior problems, including violence, sexual boundary issues, and poor impulse control.

The jury took less than ten minutes to convict Pittman, and the judge took around the same time to decide on the sentence. 

Some jurors were visibly disgusted as the trial went on, while some were quiet and somber.

The five other defendants face the same penalty if convicted.

Cathryn Khalil, reporting.

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