NEW BOSTON, Texas -- The child sex abuse trial of a local pastor resumes today in Bowie County.
Logan Wesley III is accused of using his position to prey on girls, including a family member.
Wesley reportedly founded the Trinity Temple Church of God in Christ in 1997 in Texarkana, Ark. "Elder Logan Wesley III -- pastor" remains on the bottom of a sign affixed above the doors of the church, a modest building on Washington Street.
Three indictments, each related to a different girl, accuse Wesley of 18 felony child sex abuse charges, some of which are punishable by five to 99 years or life in prison.
The three girls, now women in their 30s, testified Monday and Tuesday that they were sexually abused by Wesley for years.
A now-38-year-old relative of Wesley's took the stand Monday and told the jury that she went to live with Wesley and his wife when she was 13 and Wesley was in his 30s. She said Wesley began entering her bedroom at night soon after she moved in and beat her when she spoke of the abuse during an argument in front of his wife, Cynthia Wesley.
A second woman, 32, testified that she was 9 when Wesley stopped and gave her, her mother and her brothers a ride, and invited them to his church before dropping them off. She and her family quickly joined the church life, and the woman recalled overhearing a "heated" argument that ended with Wesley physically attacking the now-38-year-old relative, who was then a teenager.
Both women testified that Wesley spoke about the girl's black eye with the congregation the following Sunday, saying that she had attacked him. The women testified that parishioners responded with, "Amen," when Wesley proclaimed, "No kid is going to run my house."
The second witness testified that she was sexually abused from ages 9-12. She said Wesley lost interest in her after a father figure made a phone call to Wesley one night.
The first witness told the jury that she was in her 20s when the abuse stopped. Last year she provided Texarkana, Texas, police with a recording of a phone conversation during which Wesley appears to show remorse and apologize. She said she loves Wesley but felt compelled to step forward "because I knew it needed to stop, and he was going to keep going."
A third witness, now 34, testified that she was sexually abused by Wesley into adulthood from age 13. She told the jury that Wesley "repeatedly" told her the sexual abuse was "OK because he was a man of God."
The third woman testified that she remembers Wesley having a car accident during a drive to her house after he had sexually assaulted her in his car at the end of a dead-end road. Texarkana, Texas, Police Department detective Tabitha Smith testified that while Texarkana, Ark., police no longer have records of accident reports from 1999, she found an entry in a multiagency database documenting Wesley's accident report Aug. 10, 1999.
Court recessed early Wednesday after Wesley's defense team, Josh Potter of Texarkana and Brandon Pickett of Fayetteville, asked 202nd District Judge John Tidwell for time to review a printout of a screenshot of the computer entry Smith reported finding.
First Assistant District Attorney Kelley Crisp and Assistant District Attorney Lauren Richards objected, noting that a copy of the third witness's account provided to the defense mentions the accident and argued that Wesley himself had the information.
Testimony from witnesses for the state is expected to continue this morning in the New Boston High School auditorium, where the trial is being held to accommodate social distancing.