Former high school football star pleads guilty to assault in cheerleader case
HARDIN COUNTY- by Lindsey Kovacevich/6 News reporter -
A former Silsbee High school football star has pleaded guilty to assault in a case that involved a former cheerleader and an off campus party.
A judge sentenced Rakheem Jamal Bolton, 19, to one year in jail, but the sentence was suspended and Bolton will remain free if he follows the terms of his probation.
The 19-year-old was a football star at Silsbee High School. He was indicted for sexual assault following an October, 2008 off campus party.
Bolton pleaded Tuesday to the lesser charge of Class A Assault.
Rakheem Jamal Bolton stood before Judge Joe Bob Golden in a Hardin County courtroom Tuesday flanked by his attorney, Stella Morrison, and the special prosecutor, David Barlow.
Bolton pleaded guilty to Class A Assault. He was fingerprinted and then walked out of court.
"I feel relieved," Bolton told KFDM News. "I'm glad we came to an agreement and I'm just ready to move on with my life."
Bolton says it's been a long road to get to this point. It began in October of 2008 when he was still attending Silsbee High School.
"Yes, I do feel like it was fair," said Bolton. "Very fair."
Bolton says he wants to move on with is life and get back to the sport he loves.
"College, play football," said Bolton. "Everything else I wanted to do, I can finally do it now."
While Bolton is looking ahead in his life, he also looks back on the impact of the case on the former cheerleader.
"I have no hard feelings," said Bolton. "I never have and I feel like it was just a misunderstanding."
The former cheerleader and her family didn't attend the court hearing.
Special prosecutor David Barlow says they're satisfied with the outcome.
"The State feels it's a fair resolution for the victim, and the victim agrees," said Barlow. "I think it's a fair resolution also. The State is happy he has finally come forward and admitted his guilt."
Barlow understands not everyone in the community will be happy with the agreement.
"The community at large does not know all the facts and all the details involved in that," said Barlow. "Only the attorneys and the people involved. They are the ones that know and that's why everyone who was involved in this does believe it was justice and the proper thing to do."
Both Rakheem Bolton and the victim attended high school here in Silsbee, and even years later, the community remembers and reflects on the case."
"I believe in second chances," said Winford Harper. "He had gotten into a little trouble. Trying to clean his life up. Going to church. Doing his services every Wednesday. Trying to make a difference. He was making a difference in the neighborhood."
Jerry Howard knew Bolton as a child.
"I never had no problems as far as violence," said Howard. "I think he'll do real good getting another chance. Everyone makes mistakes."
"Very ready to put it behind me," said Bolton.
A sentiment echoed by Bolton's family in a case hardly forgotten by the people of Silsbee.
The judge also sentenced Bolton to 2 years probation, a $2,500 fine, 150 hours of community service, and he must attend an anger management course.
Bolton will always have the conviction of assault on his record.
Another defendant in the case, Christian Paul Rountree, was indicted on a charge of sexual assault. His case is pending.
Earlier report - HARDIN COUNTY - KFDM News has learned a former Silsbee High School football star indicted on a charge of sexually assaulting a former school cheerleader pleaded guilty in court Tuesday to the lesser offense of Class A Assault and received a probated sentence.
Rakheem Jamal Bolton, 19, cried during an interview with KFDM News following sentencing and told us is happy and relieved the case has ended.
"I have no hard feelings toward the girl," Bolton told KFDM reporter Lindsey Kovacevich after the sentencing. "It was a misunderstanding."
Bolton said he's ready to move on with his life, go to college and play football.
Bolton was represented by attorney Stella Morrison.
Attorney David Barlow was appointed special prosecutor in the case. Barlow told KFDM News the ex-cheerleader and her family supported the agreement and sentence.
KFDM News was in court for the sentencing. Watch Live at 5 and KFDM News at 6 and 10 for a report from Lindsey Kovacevich.
Judge Joe Bob Golden sentenced Bolton to one year in the Hardin County Jail, but the judge suspended the sentence and placed Bolton on probation for two years. The judge also assessed a fine of $2,500, 150 hours of community service, and ordered Bolton to attend anger management classes, in addition to the statutory conditiosn of probation. If he does everything he's required to while on probation, Bolton won't have to serve time in jail, but he'll have the conviction for Assault. If he violates probation, he'll have to serve the year in jail.
In November 2009 a grand jury indicted Bolton and former Silsbee High School football player Christian Paul Rountree, 20, on charges of sexual assault. They were accused of sexually assaulting a Silsbee High School cheerleader in October 2008 during a party away from the campus.
The case against Rountree is pending.
Bolton, Rountree and a juvenile who also played football at the time, were charged with the assault, but in January 2009 a grand jury decided not to indict them.
A different grand jury returned the two indictments in November 2009 against Bolton and Rountree. Attorney David Barlow presented the case to the grand jury. He was appointed Special Prosecutor when District Attorney David Sheffield recused himself.
If Bolton had been convicted of sexual assault, a 2nd Degree Felony, he could have received up to 20 years in prison.
KFDM News interviewed Bolton following the indictment in November. He told us he didn't sexually assault the cheerleader. Bolton said he looked forward to going to college and majoring in Communication. He also told us he wants to get the case behind him. He thanked his family for supporting him.
One of two suspects indicted on charges of sexually assaulting a Silsbee High School cheerleader at a party, proclaimed his innocence during an interview with KFDM News after he posted $250,000 bond and was released from jail Wednesday.
Rakheem Jamal Bolton, 18, told KFDM News he didn't sexually assault the cheerleader. Bolton said he looks forward to going to college and majoring in Communication, and he wants to get the case behind him. He also thanked his family for its support.
Bolton was accompanied by his attorney, Stella Morrison, and an aunt, when he left the jail at about 2:30 p.m. Wednesday. Morrison told KFDM News her client, and Christian Paul Rountree, 19, are both innocent of the charges against them. Rountree was released from jail Tuesday evening after posting $250,000 bond.
The Hardin County grand jury Tuesday indicted Bolton and Rountree on charges of sexual assault of a child.
The charges are 2nd Degree Felonies. If convicted, Bolton and Rountree could face punishment ranging from 2-20 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.
The grand jury didn't indict a student who was a juvenile at the time of the incident and who had previously been charged in the case. A special prosecutor who presented the case to the grand jury Tuesday told KFDM News the grand jury didn't have jurisdiction over the student.
Bolton is a senior and played football this year. Rountree played last year and has graduated.
In January a different grand jury decided not to indict the three Silsbee High School football players.
They were charged with sexually assaulting the cheerleader in October of 2008 during a party away from the Silsbee High School campus.
The girl says she was pushed into a room and sexually assaulted while the door was locked.
"I believe they're innocent," Morrison told KFDM News, in reference to Bolton and Rountree. "I believe they're not guilty of sexually assaulting the young lady. I don't believe it occurred the way I heard it on the news. If the witnesses come forward, they'll tell the truth and show it didn't happen that way. There will be a lot of extenuating facts that'll shed a big difference on the outcome."
Morrison said she wants a speedy trial so Bolton can move ahead with his life.
"Rakheem has received several football scholarship offers," said Morrison. "It's important for a child who can't pay tuition to receive a scholarship and get an education. The family had been working and preparing for this for years. Now there's a question because he's looking at a sentence of up to 20 years. I don't want to say the victim isn't devastated, but yes, it's devastating to Rakheem's family."
Attorney David Barlow was appointed special prosecutor to present the case to the grand jury when District Attorney David Sheffield recused himself after he was named as one of the defendants in a civil lawsuit filed by the cheerleader's family. The lawsuit alleges the D.A.'s investigation was improperly handled. In the past, Sheffield has strongly denied the allegations.
"I thought the evidence was very compelling and evidently the grand jury did as well," Barlow told KFDM News. "I was confident this grand jury would do the right thing and obviously they have by indicting it. The State is very happy with the outcome and so is the victim and the victim's family as well."
Barlow said he'll remain on the case and oversee the prosecution.
KFDM News spoke by telephone with the cheerleader's father. He didn't want to comment on the indictments and referred us to Larry Watts, a Houston-area attorney representing the teen's family in the civil lawsuit filed in Hardin County.
"The family isn't happy with their daughter being assaulted or with anything surrounding the case, but they're satisfied the system is back on track," Watts told KFDM News during a telephone conversation Tuesday afternoon.
"It's interesting that this is the second grand jury to hear the facts that occurred more than a year ago," said Watts. "Another grand jury was scheduled to hear the case in September of this year, but because of the inappropriate release of information to the grand jury from the D.A.'s office, that grand jury was denied the opportunity to hear the case. This grand jury heard essentially the same information heard by the previous grand jury. They had the Silsbee P.D. case file. This has been available to the school district and they didn't do one darned thing except yank the cheerleader out of her activities because she protested having to cheer during a basketball game for one of the people accused of sexually assaulting her."
A spokesperson told KFDM News the Jasper chapter of the NAACP is planning a news conference to protest the indictments. The news conference is scheduled for 10 a.m. Monday at the Hardin County Courthouse.
The Hardin County grand jury has decided not to indict three Silsbee High School football players who were charged with sexually assaulting a cheerleader during a party, according to District Attorney David Sheffield.
The grand jury heard about three hours of testimony Monday before voting to no-bill Christian Rountree, 18, Rakheem Bolton, 17, and a 16 year old juvenile.
They were accused of sexually assaulting a Silsbee High School cheerleader last October during a party at a home in Silsbee.
The girl testified before the grand jury.
"The action by the Grand Jury ends the matter unless something such as newly discovered evidence arises and necessitates presentment of the case to this or another Grand Jury," said Sheffield.
Sheffield told KFDM News everyone involved in the case is a victim of underage drinking and an extreme lack of adult supervision.
"Because everyone had been drinking, it would have made it difficult to prove the allegations raised in this case," said Sheffield.
"Everyone's memory and degree of accuracy in their recollections would make it tough to prove."
A woman at the home where the party took place faces misdemeanor charges of making alcohol available to minors.
Sheffield says because the players and the cheerleader are no more than three years apart in age, state law prevents prosecution for sexual assault if the grand jury cannot determine there was lack of consent. He says if the age difference had been greater than three years, state law allows for prosecution of sexual assault, even if there's consent.
"The case has deeply divided the community of Silsbee and especially Silsbee High School." Sheffield strongly warns that any retribution, threats or harassment of the victim could result in 3rd degree felony Retaliation charges being filed.
So that was a month ago. Now there is this.
Cheerleader Required to Cheer for Man Who Assaulted Her
If someone assaulted you, would you want to then cheer for his performance on a basketball court? A 16-year-old Texas high school student sure didn’t.
High school football star Rakheem Bolton and two others were indicted for sexual assault of a child–identified only as H.S.–at a post-game party in 2008. According to H.S.–a fellow student and cheerleader at Silsbee High–Bolton, football player Christian Rountree and another juvenile male forced her into a room, locked the door, held her down and sexually assaulted her. When other party-goers tried to get into the room, two of the men fled through an open window, including Bolton, who left clothing behind. Bolton allegedly threatened to shoot the occupants of the house when the homeowner refused to return his clothes.
In September 2010, Bolton pled guilty to a lesser charge of Class A Assault and was sentenced to one year in prison, a sentence that was suspended by the judge in lieu of two years probation, a $2,500 fine, community service and an anger management course.
Silsbee school officials had two responses to the incident. First, they urged H.S. to keep a low profile, such as avoiding the school cafeteria and not taking part in homecoming activities. With the support of her family, she refused to do so, rejecting the notion that she had anything to be ashamed of. Secondly, school officials kicked her off the cheerleading squad for refusing to cheer for Bolton. No kidding.
Bolton had been allowed back on campus during a brief period when one grand jury withdrew the charges before another grand jury reinstated them. During a basketball game, H.S. cheered for the entire team but refused to cheer “Rakheem” during his free-throws, so she was off the squad.
H.S.’s parents sued the school for violating her right to free speech, but an appeals court dismissed her case earlier this month. The bizarre reasoning: “In her capacity as cheerleader, [she] served as a mouthpiece through which the school could disseminate speech–namely, support for its athletic teams.” Not cheering for Bolton “constituted substantial interference with the work of the school because, as a cheerleader, [she] was at the basketball game for the purpose of cheering, a position she undertook voluntarily.” In other words, the “work of the school” is basketball, and H.S. was obligated to put on a robotic smile and cheer for the man who had assaulted her.
Silsbee High School officials should be held accountable for their actions. Richard Bain, Jr., the superintendent of schools, allegedly ordered H.S. to cheer for her attacker.