Two years ago, Joey Dauben was full-time small-town muckraker, publishing the Ellis County Observer and a string of other small papers, blending investigative stories with vicious gossip and baseless speculation at a rate of speed that thrilled and enraged his target audience. He focused intensely on child pornography and child sex abuse, alleging that child porn rings were rampant on Facebook, which he called "the breeding ground of a massive, global, inter-connected, sick and sadistic, electronic child porn, child-sex trafficking ring."
But in December 2011, Dauben, now 32, became the story himself, after he was arrested and charged with sexually assaulting a 14-year-old boy during a church retreat in 2007.
Dauben sat in jail for three months before he was able to bond out; his bail was revoked in September, when a district judge ruled that he'd violated the terms of his release by accessing Facebook, sending emails and appearing on a talk radio show. He's been locked up again since then. On Friday, a Navarro County jury found him guilty of three counts of sexual assault with a child and one count of indecency with a child, the Corsicana Sun reports.
On Monday, the Sun adds, Dauben received three 10-year sentences on those charges, plus 10 years of probation after he's released. As the punishment phase began, Dauben wept on the witness stand, telling the judge that he's investigating a child pornography ring in Kaufman County that's connected with three missing children.
"Nothing's being done about it," he told the judge. Dauben also reportedly cried when his victim, now 20, testified that Dauben had performed several sex acts on him in the showers during the church retreat. The victim, 14 at the time of the assault, said he participated willingly in the sex acts, but felt "weird" and "confused" by what had occurred.
A presentence investigation will determine whether Dauben's sentences are served consecutively or concurrently. The assistant district attorney has asked that the sentences be "stacked" -- served consecutively -- to put Dauben behind bars for the maximum possible time.
Dauben will learn the precise length of his bid in a hearing set for January 22. It's not clear whether his attorney plans to file an appeal.
"At the end of the day, Joey Dauben raped a 14 year old boy," Navarro County District Attorney R. Lowell Thompson told the Sun. "He complained about Ellis County being soft on sex offenders. He found out that in Navarro County, we aren't."
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