Man, woman get prison time in child sex cases


Two Gonzales County residents were sentenced to prison terms in child sex cases by a district court judge Tuesday.

According to Gonzales County District Attorney Vicki Pattillo, District Court Judge W.C. Kirkendall sentenced Belinda Leal to seven years in prison for two counts of sexual assault of a child and two counts of indecency with a child by contact.

Leal pled guilty to all counts. She had no prior criminal history, Pattillo said and was sentenced to seven years in prison.

Leal had been an employee of Away from Home, Inc., a youth shelter for immigrant youths in Nixon.

The center housed children who had entered the country unescorted by an adult and Leal admitted she had assaulted four teenage boys.

Leal was indicted by a Gonzales County Grand Jury earlier this year after incidents at the center had been uncovered in February.

The case was originally forwarded to federal prosecutors but returned to Gonzales County when federal officers decided it could be better prosecuted locally.

After an intense investigation by the DA's office and local sheriff investigators, the indictments were returned.

Also Tuesday, Michael Walpole was sentenced to serve five years in prison for the aggravated sexual assault of a young child.

the 40-year-old Walpole or the Harwood community was arrested on July 1 and originally charged with two counts of indecency with a child through sexual conduct and one count of sexual assault of a child.

Twenty-six-year-old Keith Robert Berger of Gonzales was also arrested on child sexual charges earlier this year when he attempted to what he thought was a young boy to a meeting in Victoria online for sex.

He was indicted in Victoria and information on any sentence he may have been given could not be found, although it is rumored that he has been sentenced.

District attorney Pattillo believes that sentences like these "sends a message to sex offenders that our children will be protected by the criminal justice system."

Both Leal and Walpole will need to serve at least half of their sentences before being eligible for parole.

Both will then be required to register as sex offenders for the remainder of their life.