A former prison guard at the Crain Unit of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice in Gatesville faces multiple felony charges in both Bell and Coryell counties.

A Bell County district judge sentenced the former prison guard to prison for the sexual assault of a 16-year-old girl.

David Stuart Tatarian, 29, of San Antonio, pleaded guilty to a charge of sexual assault in Judge Martha Trudo’s 264th District Court.

Tatarian was indicted on a charge of sexual assault June 4, 2014, and entered his guilty plea that month. According to an arrest affidavit, in July 2013, police were contacted by Tatarian’s victim, who told police Tatarian sodomized her and had intercourse with her “on numerous occasions.”

Engaging in sexual intercourse with a person under 17, not one’s spouse, is sexual assault, a second-degree felony under the provisions of Chapter 22.011 of the Texas Penal Code.

Also in July 2013, Tatarian was arrested and charged with at least four counts of violation of civil rights for allegedly having sexual contact with female inmates at the Crain Unit at the state prison in Gatesville, where he was working as a guard in 2012.

According to Coryell County court records, Tatarian pleaded guilty to at least one of the charges and was sentenced to probation.

A minimum of two charges of violation of the civil rights of a person in custody remain pending in Coryell County.

Tatarian was remanded to court custody Oct. 8 to face the remaining charges.

On Oct. 8, Tatarian faced visiting Judge Mickey R. Pennington, who accepted a five-year prison plea bargain offer and sentenced Tatarian to five years confinement in state prison.

Additionally, with his guilty plea and sentencing, Tatarian must register as a sex offender and submit to a blood sample to be added to the national DNA criminal database.

“Violation of the civil rights of a person in custody” is the penal code title assigned to cases of this nature to address the inherent problem of prison guards of both sexes engaging in sexual activity with inmates under the charge of the State of Texas.

This charge applies regardless of whether the activity was consensual. Over two decades ago, the attorney general of the State of Texas opined that offenders incarcerated at any level of the penal system cannot give consent to engage in sexual activity. The very fact that they are under authoritative control removes that option.

As a large number of prison guards at the six major prison units and their satellites hail from Copperas Cove and other central Texas municipalities, this law has far-reaching implications and very severe consequences for violations.

Fortunately, the vast majority of employees of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice are honest, hard-working, by-the-book guards, investigators and administrators whose ethics cannot be negatively influenced.

Assaults

Ten assaults were reported to police from Oct. 6 through Oct. 12. Seven of these involved family members.

This number reflects the unacceptable upward trend in this category of crime in Copperas Cove.

According to the latest available data extracted from Uniform Crime Reporting, assaults comprise only 5 percent of Cove’s crime picture. Based on the rising numbers of this category of crime, however, ensuing data will show a sharp increase.

Those who read this column will note that some previous reports arise anew at locations previously cited for this crime. These repeat performers face increasingly severe remedies as they appear before the judiciary and rightly so.

  • An assault by contact/family violence was reported Oct. 8 in the 1200 block of South 23rd Street.
  • An assault with bodily injury/family violence and assault by contact/family violence was reported Oct. 8 in the 1200 block of East Business U.S. Highway 190.
  • Two separate reports of assault causing bodily injury/family violence were reported Oct. 10 in the 1300 block of Dekort Street.
  • Two separate reports of assault causing bodily injury were reported Oct. 10 on Oak Ridge Street.
  • An assault by contact was reported Oct. 8 in the 1300 block of Georgetown Road.
  • An assault with bodily injury was reported Oct. 8 in the 100 block of North Third Street.
  • An aggravated assault on a public servant was reported Oct. 8. An arrest was made. This is a felony offense with the potential for severe penalties.

Thefts/burglaries

Eight thefts and burglaries were reported in the six-day period ending Oct. 12. According to the latest available data extracted from Uniform Crime Reporting, thefts comprise 70 percent of Cove’s crime picture and burglaries remain at about 20 percent.

  • An attempted burglary of a building was reported Oct. 8 in the 1600 block of Veterans Avenue.
  • A theft of game consoles from a residence was reported Oct. 8 in the 300 block of Veterans Avenue.
  • A theft of currency was reported Oct. 7 from a retailer in the 3000 block of East Business U.S. Highway 190.
  • The burglary of a residence, a felony crime, was reported Oct. 10 in the 2900 block of Markos Drive.
  • The theft of a cellphone valued at $300 was reported Oct. 5 in the 400 block of South 25th Street.
  • Yard lights valued at $120 were reported stolen Oct. 5 in the 2100 block of Vernice Drive.
  • A burglary of a vehicle was reported Oct. 5 in the 300 block of Town Square. A window regulator valued at $500 was damaged.
  • A theft of currency in the amount of $3,500 was reported Oct. 5 in the 200 block of Walker Place Boulevard.

Other crimes

The UCR report indicated other crimes comprise 5 percent of our crime. These are the myriad of crimes that do not fall into the categories of theft, burglary and assault.

This category is not intended to minimize these crimes, some of which are serious felonies with harsh penalties. Sex crimes and illicit drugs are just two of the more serious crimes in this category.

  • Indecency with a child/sexual contact was reported to Cove police Oct. 10.
  • Another indecency with a child/sexual contact was reported to Cove police Oct. 10. The identity of minor victims is strictly protected in these cases. Revealing the identity of the vile perpetrators of these crimes has the potential of revealing the identity of the victim. We will follow these cases closely.
  • Possession with intent to promote child pornography, breach of computer security and electronic transfer of certain visual material depicting minors was reported Oct. 8. This perpetrator, if convicted, faces enormous legal challenges.
  • Fraudulent use/possession of identifying information was reported Oct. 7 in the 2400 block of Ryan Drive.
  • Fraudulent use/possession of identifying information was reported Oct. 8 in the 300 block of Erby Avenue.
  • Forgery of a government document money-securities was reported Oct. 10 at an apartment complex on East Avenue B.
  • Forgery of a government document was reported Oct. 8 in the 2900 block of Oak Hill Drive.
  • A terroristic threat-interruption of public place was reported Oct. 5 in the 400 block of South 25th Street.
  • Criminal mischief was reported Oct. 8 in the 100 block of East Blancas Drive.
  • Criminal mischief was reported Oct. 8 in the 1100 block of South 13th Street.

John Vander Werff is a 30-year veteran of law enforcement, with a decade in city and county law enforcement and 20 years with state police.

John Vander Werff is a 30-year veteran of law enforcement and a Copperas Cove resident.​

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