J’can gets 50-year sentence for sexually abusing foster children
A Jamaican man residing in the United States, who sexually abused two of his foster children over a two-year period, has been ordered to serve 50 years in prison.
Eric Norman Stewart, 66, of Missouri City, Texas, will have to serve his sentence “day for day” under state law, the Fort Bend County District Attorney’s Office said in a public statement about the case.
Stewart was born in Jamaica, the district attorney’s office confirmed in response to questions submitted by The Gleaner on Thursday, but gave no additional background information.
Gordon Dees, the attorney who represented Stewart, said he would feel “uncomfortable” talking about his client’s “situation”, when asked about Stewart’s Jamaican background.
“I will be seeing him in the next few days. I would be more than happy to say I was contacted by someone, but I’m really not at liberty to discuss his case,” Dees said during a brief interview.
A jury found Stewart guilty of continuous sexual abuse of a young child on March 9 and deliberated for an hour before agreeing on his punishment.
He is a former employee of the Department of Family and Protective Service and authorities say Stewart had established a group home at his Missouri City residence that fostered and adopted several children.
Prosecutors Alycia Curtis and Craig Priesmeyer led evidence during the trial that Stewart sexually abused two girls – a nine-year-old and a 12-year-old – inside his home for more than two years, starting in 2016.
Curtis, in a statement released by the district attorney’s office, blasted Stewart for betraying his role as a father and an employee of an agency that was established to keep children safe.
“All children deserve to feel safe in their homes. As a voice for our community, the jury made it clear that there are severe consequences for those who abuse our most vulnerable,” the prosecutor said.
Priesmeyer praised the young victims for their courage.
“The victims’ courage was not only heard, but felt, by everyone in the courtroom. Despite the defendant’s attempt to discredit their powerful accounts of repeated sexual abuse, the jury saw through his lies and told him so by their verdict,” Priesmeyer said.
Under Texas law, the offence of continuous sexual abuse of a young child is a first degree felony punishable by 25 to 99 years or life in prison with no parole eligibility, the district attorney’s office said.
It also requires lifetime registration as a sex offender.