State seeks civil commitment for soon-to-be released child sex offender

Richard Paul Barnes convicted of aggravated sexual assault of child

SAN ANTONIO – In 1997 Richard Paul Barnes, who is now 60, was convicted of sexually assaulting two girls -- ages 6 and 4 years old. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

As his mandatory release date approaches, the state has initiated an attempt to have him committed to the state hospital in Littlefield to be monitored by the Texas Civil Commitment Office.

A civil commitment trial for Barnes is underway this week in Judge Jefferson Moore’s 186th District Court.

“It’s not double jeopardy because he’s already served his criminal time,” said Bexar County District Attorney Nicholas “Nico” La Hood.  “This is a civil commitment.”

“We, in good faith, believe that this person is a danger to our community to either adults or children,” LaHood said.

As is the case in all criminal trials, the state must prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt.

On Wednesday, the state began calling expert witnesses who have examined Barnes’ case to testify.

“We need the expert testimony of forensic psychologists to talk about the abnormality in someone’s mind that would make it more likely that they’re going to engage in this violent sexual behavior in the future, La Hood said.

If the jury rejects the civil commitment, prison officials will have no choice but to release Barnes next year when he has completed serving his sentence.

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