By CLINT FOSTER
PALO PINTO – A Ranger man was sentenced to 25 years in prison after he pled guilty, Monday, to online solicitation of a minor for the purpose of sexual contact.
According to Palo Pinto County District Attorney Mike Burns, William Darrell Brown, 41, opted not to contest charges as a jury panel waited in the hall outside of the courtroom, gathered to serve on a trial for an incident that occurred in October 2012.
Burns said Brown, a registered sex offender, sent a text message to a 12-year-old Mineral Wells girl last year, suggesting that they meet for the purpose of engaging in sexual contact. The girl showed the text to her mother who then contacted police and arranged a meeting with Brown – posing as her daughter – underneath the “big oak tree” at the Boyce Ditto Public Library at 11:30 p.m.
Burns said police staked out the library and saw Brown’s car, as described by the mother, stopped him and arrested him. He added that after Brown was arrested, police also found he was in possession of a small quantity of what is suspected to have been methamphetamine.
“This was a combination of the child doing the right thing ... the mother doing the right thing ... and police doing the right thing – following up on it and arresting him before anything bad could happen,” said the DA.
Burns explained that under normal circumstances, Brown’s charge of online solicitation would be a second-degree felony. However, because Brown is a registered sex offender and had a previous conviction to that effect, his charge was enhanced to a first-degree felony, which could have resulted in life in prison. In Burns’ words, Brown pleaded guilty because “he decided 25 years was better than whatever the jury would have given him.”