It only took a Wise County jury 30 minutes to return a guilty verdict to a man accused of sexual assault of a child. It took them almost three hours to determine the sentence. William E. Sparks, 52, formerly of Newark, received a sentence of 10 years probation this afternoon several hours after the same jury found him guilty of sexual assault of a child. The female victim was 14 years old at the time. Sparks committed the offense during a hunting and camping trip to the LBJ Grasslands in November 2009. The victim testified that as she was sleeping she awoke to find Sparks sexually assaulting her. Sparks pleaded not guilty to the charge despite an audio recording of him admitting the offense to an investigator with the Wise County Sheriff’s Office. However, in the recording Sparks said the juvenile victim initiated the contact, and it was her fault the incident occurred. It was Sparks’ first felony conviction. The defense asked the jury for probation in lieu of prison time since he only committed the offense one time and had no prior convictions. The jury agreed. He was also fined $10,000. The jury could have given him two to 20 years in prison. He will be registered as a sex offender and will have to adhere to terms of his probation.
— posted 6:00 p.m. on 12/14/11
Below, Sparks sits with family members as he awaits the jury to return a verdict for punishment.
Photo by Joe Duty