BEAUMONT, Texas — A Jefferson County jury has sentenced a Groves man to 25 years in prison, for continuous sexual abuse of a child.
William Matthew Permenter, 41, of Groves, was found guilty by a Jefferson County jury of continuous sexual abuse of a child, which is a first degree felony.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: The above video first aired on May 25, 2023.)
Permenter had pleaded not guilty to continuous sexual abuse of a child younger than 14 years old before Judge John Stevens in Jefferson County's Criminal District Court.
Closing arguments in the case ended and the jurors began their deliberations by 10:45 a.m. Friday morning.
During closing arguments, Permenter's defense attorney, Joel Vazquez, told the jury that, on the eve of the trial, the allegation changed from three assaults over a one-year period to an allegation of more than 30 assaults over a year.
He also reminded jurors that this is a criminal case and must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
Prosecutor Sonny Eckhart. in his closing arguments reminded the jury that though the defendant's claims that he had been drunk many times and often had no memories are not a defense.
He also reminded the jury of an interview the defendant had with police where he did not deny the allegation and asked the jury how quickly they would have denied such a thing if it were asked of them.
The alleged sexual abuse occurred from February 2019 to March 2020.
On Thursday, testimony continued with a young girl Permenter is accused of violating.
She was asked questions about the alleged attacks, where and how they happened.
A Groves Police Sergeant took the stand Thursday afternoon. He testified about an interview he had with Permenter and an interview he had with the young girl.
The prosecutor wanted to enter the video of the interview with Permenter into evidence, but the defense objected saying the video was hearsay with the defendant not being under oath.
Judge Stevens called for a recess while he reviewed the video to make a ruling on the objection.
The judge determined that the video was not hearsay because there was no question about the statements accuracy in that they were recorded statements. He also determined that the statements made on the video were given voluntarily.
To start the trial Wednesday, the prosecutor thanked the jury for being part of the process. He told the jury they are allowed to consider acts of abuse that happened in other counties that are part of the case.
The prosecutor said they will hear testimony from the victim’s mother and the interviewer who talked to the victim at the Garth House in Beaumont after she made an outcry.
The jury will also here from the detective who investigated the case.
Permenter's defense attorney told the jury that though they want to believe a child and may feel bad if they don’t, they should wait until all of the evidence is presented before they come to a conclusion.
Permenter will not be eligible for parole. He will have to register as a sex offender.
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