“Words cannot really express the depth of the betrayal and outrage warranted by conduct like this, committed by a man who should have been caring for and protecting these children,” Hays County District Attorney Wes Mau said.
Robert Benjamin Franks, 39, of San Marcos was convicted today of Continuous Sexual Abuse, Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child, and Indecency with a Child, arising from a pattern of sexual abuse against two separate children committed over a period of years. After a sentencing hearing, the jury sentenced Franks to two life sentences plus over 1,000 years in prison.
According to the testimony at trial, in June 2016, Franks’ 9-year-old girl stepdaughter, identified in court papers by her initials, told her father that Franks was doing “disgusting things” to her while she was in Franks’ home.
During a forensic interview conducted shortly afterwards, she described Franks as punishing her by spanking her, followed by Franks’ requiring both her and her stepsister to perform oral sex on him. The victim also testified that Franks would put his finger in her anus, but that he never engaged in vaginal intercourse with her.
Although the first victim’s 10-year-old stepsister originally denied any sexual contact with Franks, when she was taken to a Sexual Assault Nursing Examiner for an examination, she made an outcry as well, alleging similar sexual incidents, but stating that Franks had been systematically sexually abusing her for years, including during the time prior to the first victim’s coming to live with Franks.
Both children described remarkably similar sexual practices by Franks against them both individually and separately, over a period of time in excess of 30 days, leading to two charges of Continuous Sexual Abuse. In addition, Franks was charged with nine counts of Aggravated Sexual Assault and six counts of Indecency with a Child stemming from separate incidents with the second victim during the time period prior to the continuous sexual abuse allegations.
Trial began the week before Thanksgiving, on November 13, and continued through Monday, November 20, at which time the jury was charged to begin deliberations today, November 27, the Monday after the holiday. The jury deliberated for about an hour this morning before delivering their verdict of guilty on all seventeen counts.
During a short punishment hearing, the jury heard from Franks’s adult cousin, who accused Franks of taking advantage of her sexually when she was 10 and he was 14, and then again when she was 16 and he was 20. The jury began deliberations on punishment at 2:40 p.m. and returned their verdict just before 5:00 p.m. Franks was sentenced to life on both counts of Continuous Sexual Abuse, 99 years on each of the nine counts of Aggravated Sexual Assault, and 20 years in each of the six counts of Indecency with a Child. The jury also assessed a total of $120,000 in fines. Presiding Judge Jack Robison pronounced that the sentences would be served consecutively.
Elected Hays County Criminal District Attorney Wes Mau and Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Stalbaum prosecuted the case, and recognized the work of Ashlie Martin, with the Bridge Children’s Advocacy Center in Amarillo, Vanessa Paulini, late of Hays County’s Roxanne’s House Children’s Advocacy Center, and Detective Mike Andrews of the Hays County Sheriff’s Department, for their work on the case.
“Words cannot really express the depth of the betrayal and outrage warranted by conduct like this, committed by a man who should have been caring for and protecting these children,” Hays County District Attorney Wes Mau said. “The jury’s sentence speaks more eloquently than I can to make clear how our community feels about crimes like these.”