Waco man says he’s puzzled after child relatives accused him of sexual assault

Published: Jun. 7, 2023 at 5:39 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - A Waco man on trial for sexually abusing three young family members while living with relatives in Hewitt and Woodway denied the allegations Wednesday, and said he is puzzled by the accusations.

De’Shawn Lamare Horne, a 2019 Midway High School graduate, testified that his busy school, football and work schedule left him little time at home, and when he was there, he rarely spent any time alone with the three younger relatives.

Horne, 23, is on trial in Waco’s 19th State District Court on a continuous sexual abuse of young children charge, a first-degree felony punishable by a minimum of 25 years in prison without parole and up to life in prison without parole.

Under questioning from his attorney, Brian Pollard, Horne said the two girls and a boy were lying when they told the jury Tuesday that he sexually abused them. The indictment alleges the abuse began when they were 12, 8 and 6, respectively, and occurred from January 2016 through December 2018.

Horne told jurors that he, his brother, the three alleged victims and as many as six other relatives lived with their great-grandparents in Woodway and Hewitt because his parents had a volatile relationship and were in and out of their lives, including prison stints for both.

He said he often wrestled with the younger boy, adding that the boy might have misinterpreted some of their playful rough-housing as sexual contact.

Under cross-examination from prosecutor Liz Buice, Horne said he can’t explain why the girls would make up the allegations against him. The older girl told jurors Tuesday that she liked to play Xbox video games in Horne’s room, but he made her touch him inappropriately before he would let her play.

“It takes two hands to play Xbox,” she said. “Unfortunately, I was not able to use two hands because De’Shawn would grab my hand and put it on his ... "

She also said Horne sexually assaulted her on a trampoline in the back yard of the Woodway residence. She said she didn’t report the trampoline incident to investigators because she said her great-grandfather saw the incident and merely told Horne to “get off the girl.” She said she didn’t think it would do any good to report it if her grandfather just shrugged it off and never told her great-grandmother.

Horne told jurors that the girl played Xbox in his room, but he was rarely there at the same time.

In other defense testimony, Horne’s great-grandmother and father testified that Horne was a quiet, hard-working young man who rarely was at home because of his busy school and work schedule. His great-grandmother said she knows that her husband, who died from COVID in 2020, would have told her if he had seen Horne sexually assaulting the girl on the backyard trampoline.

Pollard called the alleged victims’ father to the stand to explain how he took the three kids from their home in Hewitt to live with him in Georgia in 2018. That’s where the children reported the abuse and underwent forensic interviews.

Pollard told jurors in opening statements Tuesday that the father, a disabled military veteran who was convicted in 2011 for abandoning the three children in an unhealthy, dangerous environment, manipulated them into making the abuse allegations so he could retain custody of them in Georgia and avoid child support payments.

The father glared menacingly at Horne throughout his testimony, prompting a courthouse deputy to move closer to Horne at the counsel table to help prevent a potential incident. He continued to stare at Horne as he left the witness box and walked from the courtroom.

Prosecutors Buice and Tara Avants and Pollard rested their cases Wednesday and will give closing statements when the trial resumes Thursday morning.