Former Nolanville Mayor Sentenced to 60 Years for Sexual Abuse

Sixty years without parole -- that's the sentence handed down Tuesday for a former Nolanville mayor convicted of continuous sexual abuse of a child.

Charlie Stewart, Sr., dressed in an orange jumpsuit instead of his usual coat and tie, was sentenced early Tuesday afternoon after last month's conviction.

Two witnesses, Stewart's sister and the victim's mother, testified in the sentencing hearing that lasted less than an hour.

The girl's mother told the judge Stewart took not only her daughter's womanhood, but her childhood as well, and she can't get it back.

The defense tried, as it did during the trial, to paint Stewart as a caring community leader, with decades of service under his belt.

"Charlie Stewart for many, many, many years was a pillar of his community," defense attorney John Galligan said. "He served his church, he served his country, he served his community, and all of that's un-rebutted."

Assistant district attorney for Bell County Shelly Strimple applauded the victims who came forward to stop what the prosecution claimed was decades of abuse of family members.

"These victims were incredibly courageous," she said. "They have put an end to his serial molestation of children. They are courageous and brave and he will molest children no more."

Stewart's attorney looked for leniency, saying his client's wife is in poor health, and their family business has been reduced to nothing because of bad publicity over the trial.

"Charlie Stewart's 59 years old," Galligan said. "The sentence today together with the mandatory minimum and the lack of parole really is effectively a life sentence."

But Strimple defended the sentence and the mandatory minimums the state uses as a starting point in cases like this.

"Juries now have truth in sentencing," she said. "There was nothing hidden from this jury and they knew the full truth as they should, so we expect to succeed on appeal."

There's no word yet on when that appeal will get underway, but the judge did direct the court to appoint Stewart's appellate counsel.

He'll get time off his sentence for time served between his indictment last December and Tuesday's sentencing.


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