By Vanesa Brashier, firstname.lastname@example.org
A former Cub Scout master and Liberty firefighter, James Russel Clymer, 35, was sentenced to 60 years in prison Wednesday in the 75th State District Courtroom in Liberty County for aggravated sexual assault of a child.
Clymer entered a guilty plea in March following his arrest last November for the continuous sexual abuse of a female relative. The violations against the child began when she was 7 years old and continued for several years until she made an outcry to her mother and school officials on Nov. 1, 2018.
Liberty County District Attorney Logan Pickett reached a plea agreement with Clymer to keep the young victim from having to take the stand and testify against her assailant. Pickett told visiting District Judge K. Michael Mayes, sitting in for 75th State District Judge Mark Morefield, that Clymer had forced the child to have sex with him on hundreds of occasions. During some of these sessions, he videotaped her.
In his closing comments, Pickett choked up as he explained his greatest fear in the case was that Clymer’s punishment would not be harsh enough and asked the judge to consider at least a 60-year sentence. He pleaded with the judge to remember that Clymer threatened the female victim, subjected her to degrading acts and stole her childhood.
“This is the most heinous of crimes where a person wasn’t killed,” the DA said. “Please help me send a message to TDCJ (Texas Department of Criminal Justice) that we won’t want him to get out. Please help me send a message to the residents of Liberty County that we don’t want him to get out, and please help me send a message to the victim, that we don’t want him out.”
Clymer’s mother testified and pleaded for mercy for her son, whom she adopted when he was 10 days old.
“I do not agree with anything he has done,” said his mother, adding “It is my wish that the court would have mercy on my son. He is a good person. I want redemption for my son.”
Clymer’s attorney, Tom Abbate, asked his mother to explain Clymer’s redeeming qualities. She claimed that he had befriended children targeted by bullies in school and had taken up a lawn mowing business when he was 10, so his mother, who was a single parent at the time, would have enough money to care for her other children.
Under cross-examination by Pickett, Clymer’s mother was asked about an incident between Clymer and his sisters when they were adolescents. Clymer reportedly exposed himself to his sisters, prompting an investigation in the Clymer home by Children’s Protective Services. Pickett cited all the abuses inflicted on Clymer’s most recent victim and asked his mother is this behavior is acceptable to her.
“No,” she said.
Pickett then asked her if redemption could possibly be achieved for her son given all the crimes he has committed.
“I believe there is good in everyone,” his mother said.
Clymer was given an opportunity to take the stand to testify in his defense, but he declined, and the defense rested its case.
“My client has accepted responsibility. You’ve heard some good and some bad stories, and now you have to decide his punishment,” Abbate said. “As the court is aware, Mr. Clymer is in his mid-30s to late 30s, and he will have to do half of his time before he is eligible for parole. We are not asking for a specific sentence. All we are asking in deciding his fate is to remember there is some good there. Keep his age in mind when deciding his sentence.”
In announcing Clymer’s 60-year sentence, Mayes prefaced it by sending a message to the victim.
“This was not your fault. You are clearly a special person,” said Judge Mayes, urging the victim and her mother to continue getting counseling to move past the incident. “This is a family that needs to survive.”
The judge told Clymer that while his mother made good points about her son needing redemption, the sentence had to be fair to the victim.
“What you did was intentional and ongoing and was a sequence of events that defy understanding,” he said. “You didn’t just mess up. You destroyed the innocence of a child. You destroyed yourself, your integrity and your humanity.”