Fairfield pastor on trial for sexual assault of 15-year-old chur - KXXV-TV News Channel 25 - Central Texas News and Weather for Waco, Temple, Killeen |

FAIRFIELD

Fairfield pastor on trial for sexual assault of 15-year-old church member

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FAIRFIELD -

It's a case that's rocked the Central Texas town of Fairfield. The trial for the pastor accused of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old member of his church began Tuesday.

A strange turn of events caused the trial to be recessed until Wednesday, but they were able to get through opening arguments and the victim's testimony before evacuating the Freestone County Courthouse.

That now 16-year-old girl confronted her alleged rapist face to face. Her tears overflowed as she described what she says happened to her.

The victim says Anthony Lynn Thibodeaux sexually assaulted her last year after attending a church revival in Teague with her two sisters and Ladonna Brackens. She told jurors she and her sisters went swimming at Brackens' house before going to that event.

Brackens is a former Fairfield ISD Assistant Coach.

The victim says she got up in the middle of the night to get a glass of water when Brackens called her into the room with her and Thibodeaux. She says Brackens told her, "He's not going to hurt you; he's just going to touch you." She testified Brackens just watched as Thibodeaux sexually assaulted her then told her to keep it secret. The victim testified she told the pastor no multiple times and asked Brackens for help.

During cross examination, the defense questioned why the victim didn't scream or fight during the alleged attack and asked why she didn't tell anyone right away. He also claimed the victim gave investigators different accounts of what happened.

In opening arguments, Freestone County District Attorney Chris Martin told jurors Thibodeaux "used his position and trust as a pastor of Fairfield Missionary Baptist Church to take advantage and abuse the victim." He also said Thibodeaux "betrayed the trust of the victim, her family and everyone at his church."

Then the prosecution made a surprising move and admitted to jurors that the victim's grandmother had consulted with an attorney about filing a civil suit against Thibodeaux. Martin said he wanted the jury to know that up front but the victim has no motive to lie about what she says happened.

The defense told jurors that his client had been silent long enough, even after the story became public saying, "there are two sides to every story" and that they're excited to tell their side of the story. The defense said they're confident they will come away with a not guilty verdict.

The victim said she didn't fight back because she was scared and claimed she didn't disclose all of what happened to her because Thibodeaux threatened to hurt her.

After the victim finished testifying, court recessed for lunch but the trial was later canceled for the day after courthouse staff noticed some structural damage.

The tiles on the second floor began to buckle, so they evacuated the building and called an engineer to investigate.

The trial will resume Wednesday morning at the Fairfield Fairgrounds because of the structural damage to the courthouse.

Brackens is currently awaiting trial.

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