Judge Kathleen Hamilton, of the 359th state District Court, on Tuesday waived her exclusive jurisdiction over a 17-year-old charged with 46 felony counts, including sex acts with a child, and transferred the young man to district court for prosecution as an adult.
Her decision followed a 13-hour hearing spanning two days before the Montgomery County Juvenile Court.
The Montgomery County Attorney’s Office had charged Llewellyn Van Sligtenhorst with aggravated sexual assault of a child, trafficking of a person, sexual performance by a child, possession and promotion of child pornography, indecency with a child, exploitation of a child, obscenity and unlawful restraint alleged to have been committed against a 6-year-old victim when Van Sligtenhorst was 16 years old. Prosecutors say the teen took orders over the Internet from child predators as to what they wanted to see done to the boy.
The investigation started in 2012 when the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children forwarded a cybertip to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Investigations Unit concerning the interstate transmission of child pornography. The source of that material was determined to be a home in Harris County, but the information was too old to support a search warrant. When the Homeland Security Investigations Unit became aware of a second transmission from that same location in April, federal agents and officers with the Harris County Precinct 4 Constable’s Office executed a search warrant and allegedly recovered approximately 4,000 images from Van Sligtenhorst’s electronic devices. More than 200 of the images involved the 6-year-old victim.
After investigators determined that the offenses had occurred at a second home in Montgomery County, additional search warrants were executed at both the Harris County and Montgomery County homes in May. Police were able to locate almost all of the evidentiary items set forth in the search warrants.
Llewellyn Van Sligtenhorst was taken into custody the following day and remained in the Montgomery County Juvenile Detention Center until his certification as an adult Tuesday. At the request of the Montgomery County Attorney’s Office, Hamilton assessed bond at $500,000.
“This case is likely the most egregious case involving a juvenile offender committing such despicable sex acts on another juvenile in the history of our county,” County Attorney J D Lambright stated in a release. “The cooperative effort of law enforcement agencies at both the national and local level, along with Investigator Jimmy Wiggins in the County Attorney’s Office, enabled my juvenile prosecution staff to assemble and present a compelling argument that Van Sligtenhorst should be prosecuted as an adult. Assistant County Attorney Marc Brumberger, lead prosecutor on the case, and my entire prosecution team are to be commended for their outstanding work in protecting our community from such a predator.”
The Montgomery County Attorney’s Office, with Brett Peabody as the lead prosecutor, sought to have another juvenile transferred from the custody of the Texas Juvenile Justice Department into the adult prison system for an unrelated sexual assault of a child. Hamilton also transferred that juvenile.
“We are seeing an increasing number of juveniles preying on other juveniles in our community,” Lambright said. “Unfortunately, such heinous acts can have long-lasting and profound effects on the lives of these young victims. Typically, cases involving young offenders are handled entirely within our juvenile system, where we have a very successful sex offender treatment program. However, when the case involves older juvenile perpetrators and the offenses committed rise to this level, we will continue to vigorously seek to have such offenders prosecuted as adults in district court.”