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‘A heavy case.’ Trial of former teacher accused of sexual abuse of children gets underway in Erath County.

Updated: Jan 24

John David Trice (far left) is pictured with his attorneys Cole Stokes and David Stokes.


Calling it a “heavy case” with a “heavy topic,” Erath County District Attorney Alan Nash opened the criminal trial of John David Trice in the 266th Judicial District Court on Tuesday.


“Serious, serious acts are involved,” Nash told the jury of nine women and three men.

Seventy-eight-year-old Trice, a former teacher at Stephenville ISD, is accused of sexually assaulting four young boys over the course of several years.


In opening remarks, Nash told jurors that Trice began “grooming” his underage victims by providing them with beer, pornography and jobs at a Lingleville ranch.


Texas Ranger B.J. Hill testified that in January 2022, he was contacted by a man who said he believed his sons had been victimized by Trice.


Hill said it took two months to convince one of those men to come forward.


(That man will be referred to as Victim 1 throughout this story.)


Victim 1, now 30, testified that he began working for Trice on his ranch when he was 13.


He said Trice soon began giving him beer and questioning him about sex.


Once, when his wife was away, he said Trice invited him inside his home where he gave him whiskey, put in a pornographic video and began touching him.

He was 14 at the time.


He said the abuse happened two more times before he stopped taking Trice’s calls.


“I told nobody; I kept it to myself,” he said.


Eventually, he told his parents, then reluctantly agreed to talk to Ranger Hill.



In June 2022, armed with two recording devices, Victim 1 met with Trice at his home in Lingleville.


During that conversation, which was played in court, the victim told Trice that he was being pressured by law enforcement about his interactions with Trice while he was a teenager working for him.


The victim told Trice that he didn’t want to come forward with the information, but that the chain of events is “burned” into his memory.


“I remember us being chummy – talking about girls and drinking beer,” Trice said, adding that he could not remember anything else.


“I would appreciate you telling (the authorities) that you don’t remember, but I can’t make you,” Trice said. “And I’ll apologize even though I don’t know what I’m apologizing for.”


Trice and Victim 1 met again the following day, and that’s when there was talk of money in exchange for silence.


Trice’s attorney David Stokes claimed the victim was trying to extort his client for $300,000, but Nash argued that wasn’t true because the victim had already given a full report to authorities about what Trice had allegedly done to him.


Nash then showed jurors bank statements from 2017-18 and a variety of checks Trice had written for “labor” to several young men.


Ranger Hill said he reached out to the men who received those checks and discovered other victims.


One of those victims, now a 21-year-old college student, testified that he began working for Trice on the weekends when he was 15 years old.


(He will be referred to as Victim 3 in this story.)


Victim 3 testified that three to four weeks after he began working for the defendant, Trice began coming on to him sexually.


“I thought it was weird for sure,” he said. “He would talk about whether I would try new things or go inside with him and ‘get a nut.’”


The testimony Victim 3 provided on the stand was graphic, stating that he was subjected to continued sexual abuse over the course of several years.


The victim testified that Trice gave him $15,000 to invest in a Roth IRA and once paid him $50 for oral sex.


He said he was too embarrassed to tell anyone and was relieved to receive a call from Ranger Hill.


“It was a blessing because I was stuck in a cycle I felt like I couldn’t get out of,” he said “It was scary and embarrassing…


“I don’t want to be here today, but it’s the right thing to do.”


Testimony is expected to resume on Wednesday.


Read previous coverage on this case here and here.






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