By Sandy . . . In 1999, a young man of 17 met a young lady of 16. The details of the development of their relationship are murky; some reports indicate they were not sexually involved on the day for which he was charged but were later. There seems to be no question about her willingness to engage in the encounter or encounters.
He was charged in Michigan with sexual assault, and, again, details are murky. The age of consent in that state is 16 – her age — so regardless of what actually happened, the charge was not a statutory one. One source says that the charge was a misdemeanor and that he was legally advised to accept a plea offer. According to his listing on the registry for Texas, where he now resides, it appears he was sentenced to 3 years’ probation, and his Michigan registration requirement appears to have been for ten years.
Several attempts to contact the county clerk’s office in Genesee County, MI where he was sentenced, in order to verify facts and details, have failed. An attempt to use the appropriate section of their website to search for him by name resulted in no records being found.
So, few facts are known. He moved to Houston, Texas from Flint, Michigan. The first indication of his being registered in Texas is in February of 2015.
Except for a few special circumstances, registration in Texas is lifetime, regardless of the charge or the situation. In moving to and staying in Texas, RoShawn upped his registration requirement from ten years to life.
This young man, now 36 years of age, would most likely have remained just another obscure person living a life somewhere in Texas, doing something to survive — often just barely – on Texas’s lifetime sexual offense registry, one among almost 100,000, were it not for two things.
One, RoShawn secured employment with a Harris County judge, 270th Civil Court Judge Dedra Davis, and secondly, he apparently failed to disclose his status as a registrant to the Houston Community College, which is a compliance violation. When he was arrested, placed in handcuffs for not answering a question on a college information form, he was apparently at the courthouse, and the effect on some elements of the media of the phrases “registered sex offender” and “Harris County judge” in the same sentence was similar to a shark’s at sensing blood in the water.
So many facts are not known. But these are.
Twenty years ago, when RoShawn Evans was 17, he was convicted of a sexual crime in Michigan. He served his sentence and was placed on the Michigan Sexual Offense Registry for the shortest term, ten years.
At age 36 he is living in Houston, Texas. He is, or was, attending college. He has at least two instances of non-compliance with registry requirements, the one that resulted in the current charges and one in Michigan in 2007.
He is on the Texas Sexual Offense Registry for the entirety of his life.
There have been no new charges of a sexual nature in twenty years. There is no evidence that RoShawn presents any risk of sexual harm or danger to the public. Every indication is that his offense was not predatory but rather the result of an unwise choice made by two teenagers who were one year or less apart in age.
He is on the staff of a Harris County judge and works at a courthouse in downtown Houston.
Whether or not Judge Davis knew of his status as a person on the sexual offense registry is not known. A voice mail message left on the phone of Judge Davis’ clerk has not been returned.
If she did know before she hired him, good for her. She is not just talking the talk of giving those who are convicted of crimes second chances and opportunities to redeem themselves; she is walking the walk. Very good for her.
If the media makes an even bigger deal of this than already has happened, then bad for them.
And if, in the next election, should Judge Davis run for re-election and her opponents use this against her, painting her as unable to be fair to victims because she is a proponent of sexual offenders, then bad for them.
Very bad for them.
Sandy, a NARSOL board member, is communications director for NARSOL, editor-in-chief of the Digest, and a writer for the Digest and the NARSOL website. Additionally, she participates in updating and managing the website and assisting with a variety of organizational tasks.