Speaking softly and calmly from the witness stand, a young woman testified Thursday in Brown County Court-at-Law that she had been subjected to years of sexual abuse from her childhood to her mid-teens by a man named James Helms.
Helms, 46, of Brownwood, is standing trial before Judge Sam Moss for continued sexual abuse of a young child. If convicted, Helms, who has been in the Brown County Jail since July 2019, faces a sentencing range of 25 years to life in prison without parole, Moss announced as the trial began.
Helms sexually abused the girl repeatedly beginning when the girl was around 11 and ending when she was in her mid-teens, the young woman testified.
First Assistant District Attorney Elisha Bird told Moss in an opening statement the case would be “fairly straightforward.” Helms began “grooming” the girl at a young age before beginning sexual abuse, Bird told Moss.
In 2018, the girl’s mother discovered a cell phone with video that depicted the girl being sexually abused, which led to a confrontation with Helms and a “spiral of events,” Bird said.
The abuse was not immediately reported to law enforcement, and Helms fled to Maine, Bird said.
In April 2019, a Maine television station reported that Maine troopers arrested Helms in connection with Texas sex crimes.
In Maine, officers located additional media with child pornography and homemade pornography involving Helms and the sexual abuse in Brownwood, Bird told Moss.
Helms’ attorney, Kirk Fulk of Goldthwaite, told Moss he would reserve making an opening statement.
Helms’ accuser — who is now in her late teens and no longer lives in Brownwood — said Helms made her believe bad things would happen to her if she told she was being abused. Helms made her believe she would also be in trouble if she told, and made it clear he was not afraid to use a firearm against a child, the young woman testified.
As Helms’ accuser finished her testimony, Bird asked her if she is always able to be as calm as she was while testifying. The young woman testified she sometimes breaks down and loses control of her emotions, but said she had been determined to remain calm while testifying so she could get through it.