Sex Assault Indictment: N.Y. Priest Charged in Connection with Incident in Milam County

By Jeanne Williams
Temple Daily Telegram
April 21, 2009

CAMERON - The Rev. Steven Valenta, a Roman Catholic priest from Long Island, N.Y., was indicted by a Milam County grand jury on second-degree felony sexual assault and third-degree felony prohibited sexual contact in connection with an incident last May involving an adult female family member, District Attorney Kerry Spears said.

Grand jurors issued a direct indictment charging Valenta, 84, with sexual assault in connection with an oral sex incident, and a prohibited sexual contact charge because the incident involved a relative, Mrs. Spears said. The direct indictment means the grand jury heard the case and issued a true bill without the knowledge or arrest of the defendant.

Rockdale Police Lt. J.D. Newlin, who investigated the case, said a Rockdale woman reported to police in December that a sexual assault occurred last May when an interim priest who served St. Joseph Catholic Church for two weeks invited her to come to the rectory where the sexual assault occurred.

"It is more than his word against her's," Newlin said. "We have evidence that we feel is pretty convincing. This evidence was presented to the grand jury."

The woman did not immediately report the incident, and came to police after she had undergone counseling and had been encouraged to take the case to officials, Newlin said.

"We would not have pursued an indictment on a case like this unless we had evidence," Police Chief Thomas Harris said, declining to comment any more about the evidence.

Police are not releasing the woman's age because it would identify her, Harris said.

Valenta will be arrested in Long Island, N.Y., and given the opportunity to be released on bail. Attorneys Carroll Glaser and John Youngblood of Cameron, who are representing Valenta, declined to comment on the case.

Calls to St. Joseph Catholic Church and the Diocese of Austin went unreturned Monday.

During the session Thursday, grand jurors also indicted the following individuals:

nMark Jackson, 32, of Rockdale, first-degree felony, aggravated sexual assault of a child, two counts, and second degree felony indecency with a child.

nCedric Bernard Walton, 31, of Rockdale, second-degree felony aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

nBertha Leal-Mireles, 25, of Coupland, second-degree felony, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

nIke Anderson, 34, of Hearne, first-degree felony possession of a controlled substance, 1-4 grams with intent to deliver.

nGregory Brian Pennington, 26, of Cameron, third-degree felony, failure to register as a sex offender.

nTristan Beeman, 26, of Bartlett, third-degree felony, injury to a child.

nWilliam Nauer Jr., 23, of Cameron, first-degree felony, possession of a controlled substance, 4-200 grams with intent to deliver.

nBill Cody Southerland, 28, of Buckholts, third-degree felony, violation of a protective order assault.

nRoger Brent Nunn III, 17, of Cameron, third-degree felony, assault family violence enhanced.

nCorey Twain McIrvin, 34, of Rockdale, third-degree felony driving while intoxicated, third offense or more.

nL.C. Smith, 78, of Montgomery, and Martha Kay Moore Williams, 50, of Conroe, third-degree felony theft $20,000 to $100,000.

nJames Dustin Ashworth, 32, of Rockdale, state jail felony, theft $1,500 to $20,000.

nErnesto R. Perez Jr., 30, of Cameron, state jail felony evading arrest with a motor vehicle.

nElbert Tindle Jr., 36, and Richard Brann Hays, 24, both of Cameron, state jail felony driving while intoxicated with a passenger less than 15 years of age.

nAdrian Authur Bautista, 18, of Cameron, state jail felony, child endangerment, four counts, state jail felony evading arrest with a motor vehicle.

nJose Rafael Cervantes, 24, of Rockdale, state jail felony, tampering with a government record.

nDusty Dawn Evans Morin, 34, of Milano, state jail felony, forgery by making, two counts, and debit/credit card abuse.

nToby Lee Evans, 33, of Milano, state jail felonies, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle (enhanced) and credit/debit card abuse (enhanced).

nAdrian Morales Jr., 20, of Bryan, state jail felony, possession of a controlled substance, less than 1 gram, and third-degree felony, prohibited substance in a correctional facility.


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