An ex-vice president at a Texas university, accused of fondling his family’s 15-year-old babysitter, struck a plea deal with authorities that includes probation and registering as a sex offender for the next 10 years.
Stephen Barrett, 42, pleaded guilty to attempted indecency with a child by contact, a third degree felony, on October 23. As part of a plea agreement, he will serve a four year deferred adjudication probation and register as a sex offender through 2027. If Barrett completes the probation, the conviction will not appear on his records.
Samantha Jordan, a spokeswoman with the Tarrant County District Attorney’s office told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram: “This plea required the defendant admit guilt, register as a sex offender for 10 years, and participate in a closely monitored sex offender counseling program and substance abuse evaluation.”
Barrett served as vice president of the Health Science Center at the University of North Texas (UNT) from 2010 to October 12, 2016, when university officials fired him and Fort Worth police took him into custody on one count of indecency with a child/fondling, a second degree felony. That charge was later changed to reflect attempted indecency with a child by contact. Following his arrest, Barrett bonded out of jail on $10,000 bail.
This incident happened more than two years ago and only came to a conclusion recently. Reportedly, it was delayed when the mother held off on reporting the matter to authorities and then, last year, accusations arose that a Fort Worth detective bungled the case. However, the arrest warrant revealed the incident occurred in July 2015 when a 15-year-old female babysitter arrived at Barrett’s home to watch his young child, according to the Star-Telegram. The teenager told investigators that Barrett played slow music, appeared to flirt with her, and asked her “How adventurous are you?”
The girl also told police that Barrett kissed her on the neck and rubbed her thigh and vagina over her clothing. The teen said she told Barrett to stop, then texted her mother to pick her up immediately. The mother did exactly that. The teen’s mother later told detectives that she believed Barrett would seek counseling, the purported reason that she did not report the unfortunate encounter to the authorities right away. By September, though, Barrett’s actions appeared contrary and the woman notified police.
Child Protective Services interviewed Barrett as part of the investigation in October 2015. The alleged suspect blamed his unacceptable behavior on a hangover. According to the affidavit, Barrett said he did not feel well when the teen arrived at his home and had another alcoholic beverage to feel better and alleviate the hangover. Although he remembered sitting next to the girl on the couch, he told police he had no recollection of any of his other purported actions. Still, he told the case detective, W.K. Maddox, he knew he clearly “did something outlandish” while intoxicated. Conversely, the 15-year-old girl already told police that Barrett did not smell of alcohol and did not appear drunk at that time.
Maddox took over the case in May 2016 after the Fort Worth Police Department fired Crimes Against Children unit detective, Dennis Hutchins, who they accused of mishandling the investigation on this case.
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