The trial of a man accused of sexually assaulting his biological daughter repeatedly over the course of several years got under way Monday in the 266th Judicial District Court.
Wesley Rhodes, a Johnson County man, is charged with the first-degree felony offense of sexual assault. If convicted, Rhodes faces five to 99 years or life in prison.
Assistant District Attorney Jason Cashon said the case was originally put together in Johnson County, where the family resides, but is being tried in Erath County because of an offense that allegedly took place here.
In opening statements, Cashon told the jury that in October 2005, Rhodes brought his then 14-year-old daughter to the family's deer lease in Erath County to take part in youth deer season. Once there, Rhodes allegedly sexually assaulted his daughter.
The allegations came to light about a year later, when the victim confided in her boyfriend at the time that her father had been sexually assaulting her for years. The ex-boyfriend testified that he pushed her to tell someone.
The victim's mother, Angela Rhodes, told the jury that she began to suspect something was wrong after reading text messages between her daughter and her daughter's boyfriend.
After prompting her daughter to tell the truth, Angela Rhodes said her daughter told her that her father had been molesting her.
“I thought I knew this man… I had been married to him for 23 years,” she said. “I was so shocked that I had to hold my chest because I thought I was going to have a heart attack.”
Angela Rhodes said that she and her daughter and son left the home immediately to stay with family, then contacted the Johnson County Sheriff's Department.
The trial will resume at 9 a.m. today.
SARA VANDEN BERGE is Managing Editor of the Empire-Tribune. She can be reached at 254-968-2379, ext. 240.