By Paula Ann Solis
Former Baylor football player Tevin Sherard Elliott, 22, was sentenced Thursday to 20 years in prison and fined $10,000 for each of his two sexual assaults committed against a Baylor student in 2012.
Elliott will serve his sentences concurrently.
Jurors from Waco’s 54th State District Court deliberated his punishment for two hours. They decided on a guilty verdict earlier that day in less than an hour.
Both counts stemmed from Elliott assaulting the former Baylor student twice in one night at a party on April 15, 2012. She was the fifth person to be assaulted by Elliott, according to testimony during the trial.
“It stripped me of everything I knew and understood,” the witness said during the sentencing.
Jurors heard testimony this week from two other women, another former Baylor student and a former McLennan Community College student. They detailed sexual assaults by Elliott that took place beginning Oct. 31, 2009.
Sexual assault charges for Elliott’s first three victims were never filed and, according to the state attorney, Waco Police Department detectives failed to follow through with victim interviews. The other victim did press charges and Elliott was originally indicted on three counts of sexual assault in 2012 but only two were part of this trial.
Elliott was signed from Mount Pleasant High School in 2009 when he joined the team as a redshirt. It was not until Elliott was arrested and charged with sexually assaulting another Baylor student in 2012 after a party that victims from Elliott’s past came forward.
After the arrest, Elliott was suspended from Baylor’s football program and the university on the accusation of violating team and school policies. He went on to finish his degree at Bacone College in Muskogee, Okla.
The victim from October 2009 told Waco authorities more than three years later about her incident with Elliott. She said she kept the assault a secret because she thought she was his only victim. After learning about his charges in 2012, she realized she could have prevented it by speaking out sooner.
The victim from 2012 said because of her experience with Elliott she has developed a fear of black men, something that she is upset with herself for, and when she sees a large black man she recoils.
The victim and her mother both said the trauma of the experience and Elliott driving by her South Russell dorm after her attack caused her to do poorly in school. She lost her scholarship and left school for a period of time. Her mother said Baylor faculty was not helpful in guiding her daughter during this academically stressful time.
She said her life and relationship with men, her father and brothers included, has been changed forever.
“I don’t like thinking I’m a victim of Tevin’s. I refuse to belong to you,” she said while staring at her attacker.
News of the guilty verdict was well received by the three women who testified Elliott assaulted them. Each of the women, along with their mothers, took the stand during the punishment phase of the trial and asked the jury not to give Elliott probation, expressing danger they would feel if he were not imprisoned.
Prosecutors Hilary LaBorde and Robert Moody also asked the jury to refrain from giving Elliott probation. Moody asked the jury to punish Elliott to the fullest extent of the law.
“Probation eligibility does not mean probation deserving,” Moody said.
LaBorde told the jury that mandatory counseling would not help Elliott and he needs a conscience, not a counselor, because he was missing components that make him a human.
Elliott was the last person to take the stand before the jury decided his punishment and he told the jury he believed he could learn and grow during a probationary period. He said he did not believe the guilty verdict was justified and that every sexual act with the women who testified was consensual.
“I believe that in my heart,” Elliott said.
Defense attorney Jason P. Darling told jurors his client is no longer the 21-year-old who committed those acts. He asked the jurors for probation so Elliott could spend his time raising his two young sons, ages 2 and 4.
Elliott’s family sat behind him during the course of his trial and waited in the hall as the jurors deliberated his punishment. When the judge read the sentence, members of Elliott’s family began to cry and others spoke out, causing the judge to threaten jail time for disturbing.
James Rockwell, Elliott’s father, said he did not believe his son received a fair trial. He said one victim, the woman who said she was assaulted in 2009, came with Elliott to Rockwell’s home during Thanksgiving break less than one month after the date she said she was assaulted.
At the end of the trial, two of Elliott’s victims gave final messages to their attacker before he was taken away in his cuffs and chain. The victim from 2009 said she was sorry the sentence would be 20 years and she hopes he is released early for good behavior. However, his latest victim and the one whose assault charges Elliott will serve 20 years for said the jury got it right.
“Happy 20 years,” she said to him before he was taken away.