By Philip Jankowski
Killeen Daily Herald
BELTON — A judge on Friday refused to reduce the $500,000 bail of Nolanville's Mayor Charlie Lee Stewart, who was arrested July 20 on a charge of aggravated sexual assault.
Stewart remained in Bell County Jail at press time Friday.
The brief hearing showed Nolanville police's ongoing investigation identified as many as four girls Stewart may have sexually assaulted.
Stewart, 58, is charged in connection with several alleged assaults of a 12-year-old girl that began last summer.
Prosecutor Shelley Strimple told the court that Stewart pleaded guilty in 1991 to a misdemeanor charge of sexual battery in Mississippi. The victim in that case was a family member between 10 and 12 years old, Strimple said.
Another member of Stewart's family also has been identified as a possible victim. The fourth alleged victim is a female juvenile who stayed in Stewart's home while her parents were out of town, according to testimony from Nolanville police Sgt. David LaCroix.
Friday's hearing was Stewart's first appearance in court since his arraignment on Monday. Shackled and wearing an orange jumpsuit, Stewart sat quietly throughout the hearing and only spoke when 426th District Court Judge Fancy Jezek asked him a few brief questions.
Stewart's defense attorney Ed Brown argued that Stewart's strong ties to the Nolanville community and positive background checks by both the Killeen Independent School District and Child Protective Services showed that Stewart was not a danger to others.
CPS investigated Stewart when he assumed the custody of one of his grandchildren.
Killeen ISD looked into Stewart's criminal history when it hired him to become a computer technologist for Manor Middle School. District officials placed Stewart on administrative leave following his arrest.
Brown called one witness, Stewart's sister, Pearlie Williams, who gave rough estimates of the mayor's finances.
Williams told the court her brother did not have the $50,000 necessary to finance a $500,000 bail bond. She said Stewart could muster together about $1,000 and suggested his bond be reduced to $10,000.
Stewart has a previous arrest in Bell County in 1994 on a charge of assault with bodily injury.
An arrest affidavit states he used an extension cord to tie up one of his sons, who was a teenager at the time, and then beat him with it.
The charge was eventually dismissed, court records show.
Stewart was elected mayor in 2010. He is the second elected official from the small city to be charged with aggravated sexual assault in less than a year.
Former city councilman Miguel Aviles pleaded guilty to aggravated sexual assault April 16 and was sentenced to 18 years in prison.
Contact Philip Jankowski at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7553. Follow him on Twitter at KDHcrime.