BELTON — The trial of ousted and disgraced Nolanville mayor Charlie Lee Stewart, who is accused of sexually assaulting numerous children, begins today.
Stewart, 59, faces up to life in prison if convicted of allegations that he sexually abused multiple girls.
He faces trial specifically for a charge of continuous sexual abuse of a child, a charge stemming from an allegation that he raped a 12-year-old girl repeatedly in summer 2011.
Stewart was arrested and has remained in Bell County Jail since July 2012 after a girl told her mother, then police, about the abuse. Prosecutors will try to show she is not his lone victim.
Court documents show that Stewart may have a history of raping and molesting minors dating back as far as 1988. A filing shows that four other girls have come forward with allegations that he abused them.
Prosecutors intend to introduce evidence during the trial showing Stewart molested a girl in Bell County in 1988 and 1989, forcing her to touch his genitals and threatening to kill her if she told anyone.
Another victim alleged he raped her in Bell County in 1990. An additional girl alleged he abused her in 1990 and 1991 in Bell County and in Natchez, Miss.
Stewart may have raped a fourth victim in either 2003 or 2004 in Bell County. He allegedly contacted that victim while in jail, telling her in a letter to recant her statement to police.
Stewart was convicted of child fondling in Natchez in 1991.
Challenge to find jury
Stewart had been Nolanville’s mayor for a little more than two years when arrested. He was removed from the council two months after his arrest for missing too many meetings.
Because of pretrial publicity and Stewart’s prominence as an elected official, picking a jury may be challenge.
“We’re going to have to ask the jury about that,” said Stewart’s defense attorney John Galligan. “Some of the members may even live in Nolanville.”
The victim of the 2011 rape will likely not testify. Prosecutors filed paperwork intending to call her mother instead, who will describe Stewart’s alleged abuse.