Several high-profile criminal cases were settled in the 266th Judicial District Court Monday when the defendants agreed to plea deals.
Longtime Dublin businessman, Gerhart, was sentenced to seven years probation after pleading guilty to one count of prohibited sexual conduct and one count of sexual assault involving two victims, ages 14 and 17, in incidents that occurred in 2005 and 2008.
Gerhart, 63, is the owner of Gerhart's Barber Shop. He was represented by attorney Landon Northcutt who did not return a call for comment.
District Attorney Jason Cashon said when evaluating a sex offense for trial or plea recommendation, there are several things he considers.
"First, I spend time with the victim and their close family members and counselors to determine what outcome would serve the best interest of the victim," Cashon said. "Second, I closely examine the facts and law of each case and evaluate to the best of my ability what a jury would do with those facts and then compare them to the facts of cases I have recently tried before a jury."
Cashon said he then focuses on the defendant to determine if there is a continued threat to the community and what rehabilitative measures might be available to prevent future wrongdoing.
"In the case of James Gerhart, I made the recommendation of seven years probation with lifetime sex offender registration to ensure that this defendant did not walk away scott-free and that the victims could gain closure by his confession in open court," Cashon said. "Neither case had 'smoking gun' evidence other than the victims' sworn testimony against the defendant. After many hours of working with the victims, we decided that the probation and registration would have a better long-term result than the potential of a jury cutting this offender loose based upon the lack of irrefutable scientific evidence. Both girls wanted him to admit his crimes to Judge Jones, which he did."
In what law enforcement officials called one of the worst cases of child abuse they have ever seen, Jeannette Cuevas, 22, was sentenced to six years in the penitentiary after pleading guilty to injury to a child.
Cuevas was the victim's mother and was accused of doing nothing to stop Leticia Adame, a woman she was living with, from abusing her little girl. Adame was sentenced to seven years in prison for her part in the abuse.
The child, who was 20 months old at the time, suffered severe injuries including bruising, chipped teeth, a busted lip and nose and bilateral hemorrhaging in both eyes.
"She (Cuevas) had a duty to prevent this type of conduct and sat idly by and did nothing to stop it," Cashon said. "This is the kind of thing that makes your stomach turn."
Cashon said the child remains in the care of Child Protective Services and is doing "remarkably well."
A woman who fled from authorities after skipping a scheduled court date and was later apprehended in Colorado is also headed to prison.
Breckley Ables, 34, of Stephenville, was sentenced to 12 years in the penitentiary after pleading guilty to possession of a controlled substance and bail jumping. She was represented by court appointed attorney Alan Nash.
Ables has served time in the penitentiary twice for two prior felony convictions. Cashon said he could not ignore her criminal history.
"Every time I turned around, she was committing a new felony," Cashon said.