A 70-year-old man, considered a trusted neighbor by some in a rural neighborhood near Rhome, was indicted by a Wise County grand jury on a charge that he sexually abused two young girls.
Wise County Sheriff’s officers first arrested Hollis “Butch” Belcher March 1 at his home on Private Road 4732 in the Diamond Ridge subdivision.
Belcher was a close friend of several people in his neighborhood. He enjoyed barbecue cookouts with neighbors, and children regularly played at his house, sometimes spending the night, according to an arrest warrant affidavit obtained by an open records request.
After one of the sleepovers, a mother observed several red marks, thought to be hickeys, on her young daughter’s neck. She immediately contacted investigators.
“Our investigators had to bang on the door when they went to arrest him because it was so loud in there with kids inside, playing,” Sheriff David Walker said in March. “Our feeling is that he has apparently been grooming (the children) and grooming the parents that he’s just a harmless 70-year-old man.”
The work done by investigators with the sheriff’s and the district attorney’s offices resulted in Belcher being indicted on one count of indecency with a child, a second-degree felony, and continuous sexual abuse with a child under 14, a first-degree felony. Conviction on a first-degree felony results in a prison sentence of 5 to 99 years.
Investigators identified two victims, both girls around 10 years old.
Prior to the March arrest, Belcher’s only legal trouble was delinquency in paying property taxes to Northwest ISD.
Some people in the community thought it strange the man spent so much time with young girls.
“I’m not surprised at all by what happened,” said a neighbor who wished to remain anonymous. “We always thought there was something wrong with him hanging out with all the little girls in the neighborhood.”
She said he treated boys in the neighborhood differently than the girls.
“He would always start rumors about all the boys. He disliked a lot of the boys, and if one of the little girls had a boyfriend, he would always disapprove … I’m heartbroken for the family, but I can’t say that I’m shocked.”
Others still can’t believe it.
“I still think he’s innocent,” said a neighbor, who also wished to remain anonymous. “He’s the most giving person that I’ve ever met. He’d do anything for anybody. It’s upsetting to me. If this goes to court, I hope a lot of people go to speak on his behalf.”
Belcher is scheduled for an arraignment July 29 at the Wise County Courthouse.