A Liberty County jury on May 18, 2021, found Floyd Wesley Gibbs to be a sexually violent predator. In collaboration and with the assistance of the Liberty County District Attorney’s Office, the Special Prosecution Unit’s civil division convinced the jury that Gibbs has been convicted of two or more sexually violent offenses and suffers from a condition that predisposes him to commit sexually violent offenses. The trial was the first of its type in Liberty County and was held in the 253rd Judicial District Court before the Honorable Chap B. Cain, III.
The jury’s finding means that Gibbs will remain in prison for the rest of his life, with an appeal very unlikely, according to Liberty County District Attorney Jennifer Bergman.
Gibb’s sexually violent criminal history began in 1978 when he was placed on probation for Indecency with a Child for violating a former girlfriend’s 6-year-old daughter. While on probation for that offense, Gibbs was convicted in 1983 for Aggravated Sexual Abuse. While on parole for that offense, Gibbs was convicted and sentenced to life in prison in 1988 for Indecency with a Child. The victims in those cases were minor boys.
The State also presented evidence that Gibbs victimized other children whose cases did not lead to conviction. After officials determined that 72-year-old Gibbs posed a significant risk to reoffend sexually, Tara Matlak and Nancy Mullin, attorneys from the Special Prosecution Unit, sought to civilly commit him to a sex offender treatment facility in Littlefield instead of releasing him from prison on his parole date set for June 2021.
The bulk of testimony that began on Monday and continued until Tuesday afternoon focused on whether Gibbs currently suffers from a condition that increases the likelihood he will reoffend sexually. Christine Reed, a forensic psychologist from Dallas, testified that he does. Informing her opinion were her interview of Gibbs, his medical, prison, and sex offender treatment records, his sexual and non-sexual criminal history, the background information he provided, as well as scoring tools she used to assess sexual recidivism.
Gibbs also testified. In addition to denying and minimizing his role in the offenses that resulted in convictions and those that did not, Gibbs told the jury that at least one of his minor victims asked him to violate them and another was a liar. He also made clear that his victims had not been impacted by his actions and admitted to recently having sexual thoughts involving minors. When asked about his plan to prevent his reoffending sexually, he stated he would not be alone with children.
In closing arguments, Gibbs’ attorney, Randall Petrakovitz, argued that Dr. Reed inaccurately scored one of the tools used in assessing offenders for their propensity to reoffend sexually, lacked experience to assess Gibb’s progress in sex offender treatment, and could not appreciate the role religion would play in preventing him from reoffending. He also argued that Gibbs’ lack of sexually related disciplinaries in prison was evidence of his impulse control.
Petrakovitz asked the jury to keep these in mind and to return a verdict that Gibbs was not a sexually violent predator. In response, Tara Matlak argued that Gibbs’ lack of disciplinaries resulted from the structured environment of prison combined with the absence of children. She challenged the jury to consider the litany of other indications of Gibbs’ likelihood to reoffend sexually, including his own testimony, which evidenced his current callousness toward his victims, failure to take accountability for his actions, and lack of planning to prevent future crimes. The jury agreed with the State, rendering its verdict in an hour with and confirming to the court that the verdict was unanimous.
Bergman said she is grateful to everyone who appeared for jury duty as well as those who served on the jury.
“On behalf of my office, I want to thank everyone who responded to their jury summons by showing up for jury duty. Every person on the jury panel played an important part in keeping this community safe. It is evident by the jury’s verdict that the citizens of Liberty County, like the office of the Liberty County District Attorney, are dedicated to protecting children in our community from sexual predators. Without this dedicated jury, Mr. Gibbs would walk our streets free to continue his life of child sexual abuse,” she said. “During the trial, Mr. Gibbs showed our community who he is and the danger he poses to our children; by this verdict, our community has shown Mr. Gibbs who we are and what is not acceptable in Liberty County. Hopefully, Mr. Gibbs will never again be free to walk our streets and prey on our children, and for that we can be thankful.”