Cleveland man sentenced to 40 years for child sex assault

A Cleveland man accused of sexually abusing a young girl was sentenced to 40 years in prison on Monday, March 20, in the 258th State District Courtroom of the Honorable Judge Lisa Michalk in San Jacinto County.

Gary Russell Motter I, of Cleveland, was found guilty on two counts of Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child. San Jacinto County District Attorney Todd Dillon served as the lead prosecutor during the trial.

In accordance with state law, Motter will not be eligible for parole until he has served half of his sentence. He will also be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

In November 2022, a jury found proof beyond a reasonable doubt that Motter repeatedly sexually assaulted his stepdaughter, a child younger than 14 years of age.

After three days of testimony, which included investigators and deputies from the San Jacinto County Sheriff’s Office, counselors and forensic interviews from Children’s Safe Harbor, and the child victim, a jury unanimously convicted Motter. The jury found that the sexual abuse occurred in the home of the victim near Cleveland, Texas, on or about June 2018.

During the punishment hearing, the court heard evidence regarding a pending rape charge the defendant committed while out on bond in Arkansas in 2021. The court found the testimony of the victim from Arkansas to be compelling.

Testimony of the victim, as well as her mother, was provided to the court regarding the impact that the assault had on the life of the victim. Character evidence also was provided on behalf of the defendant by members of the defendant’s friends and family members.

District Attorney Todd Dillon thanked the San Jacinto County Sheriff’s Office, as well as Children’s Harbor, for their hard work, care and persistence in this case. A special note of gratitude is due to Amy McCorkle, previously chief investigator for the San Jacinto County District Attorney’s Office, for her tenacious pursuit of justice over the course of four years in the case. McCorkle is now employed by the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office where she continues to be a fierce advocate for justice for sexual abuse survivors.

“This sentence is a clear message to anyone who would prey on children in San Jacinto County. We will protect our children by holding you accountable,” said Dillon. “Children should be able to rely on their parents and stepparents, not be violated by them.”

The Children’s Advocacy Centers of Texas has found that of the 67,558 victims interviewed in Texas in 2022, 98 percent knew their alleged perpetrators and 45 percent were between the ages of 6 and 12.

The San Jacinto County District Attorney’s Office is dedicated to protecting survivors of childhood sexual abuse and holding their abusers to account. If you or someone you know have been the victim of childhood sexual abuse, please contact the Department of Family Protective Services Texas Abuse Hotline at 1-800-252-5400 or online at

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