Brownwood physician Donald Pope was placed on eight years probation Thursday after pleading guilty in a Tarrant County courtroom to molesting an 8-year-old girl in an Arlington hotel room in 2000.
Pope pleaded guilty to aggravated sexual assault of a child in a plea deal. As part of the deal, District Attorney Micheal Murray said his office is dismissing a similar case against Pope in Brown County.
Pope, 54, was placed on deferred adjudication probation, meaning he won’t be convicted of a crime if he meets the conditions of his probation. He was also fined $800. Pope faced a sentencing range of 5-99 years or life in prison had be been convicted of the first-degree felony.
Murray said his office participated in plea negotiations with the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office and Pope’s defense team.
“It was a global recommendation to resolve (the Arlington and Brown County) cases in a unified effort,” Murray said. “It was a coordinated effort to resolve both cases through our offices.”
The family practice physician stood trial in Tarrant County five weeks ago, but the judge declared a mistrial after jurors could not reach a verdict.
“The (victim’s) family was very pleased with the outcome of the case because the only thing they ever wanted was for him to stand up in court and take responsibility for being a child molester,” Tarrant County Assistant District Attorney Bill Vassar said in an e-mail to the Bulletin after Pope’s sentencing.
“Dr. Pope will have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life and hopefully the Texas Medical Board will quickly terminate his license to practice medicine.”
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported in its online edition Thursday that one of Pope’s attorneys, Mark Daniel, said the plea was “a fair resolution to the case.”
The girl Pope admitted to assaulting was the daughter of one of Pope’s employees, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported earlier. The girl, who is now 16, testified in the August trial that she, Pope and his daughter, also 8 at the time, stayed in a hotel for two days while visiting Six Flags, Wet ’N Wild, a Texas Rangers game and other tourist attractions, the newspaper reported.
The girl said she didn’t tell anyone about the sex abuse at the time because she was afraid her mother would be fired and she “didn’t want to go through all of this,” the Star-Telegram reported. The girl told a church camp counselor about the abuse when she was 14, according to the newspaper.
Jurors could not overcome an 11-1 deadlock in the August trial, Vassar said earlier.
Vassar, speaking by phone Thursday, declined to comment on whether the count was in favor of conviction or acquittal. Vassar, said, however, that “I think (Pope) knew the writing was on the wall” after the August trial. “After what happened last time, he knew what was going to happen at the next trial.”
In the Brown County case, Pope was accused of sexually assaulting a girl who was spending the night with Pope’s daughter in his Brownwood home sometime in 2000, sheriff’s officials said earlier.
Pope has been licensed to practice medicine in Texas since 1979, Texas Medical Board records state.