Erlis Joseph Chaisson is a child molester.
The Weatherford man first spent time in prison for sexually assaulting an 8-year-old in Louisiana and was released in 1994, according to KXXV/Channel 25 television in Waco.
Chaisson, now 47, might have remained free if a 27-year-old Texas state law enforcement officer hadn’t decided to confront her psychological problems.
The two weren’t strangers. They’re relatives.
Chaisson sexually abused her for four years when she was a young girl.
It began when she was 8 and they were living in Louisiana. The abuse continued after her family moved to a place near China Springs in 2001.
But then she got training as a law enforcement officer. And in 2014, more than 15 years after the abuse, she arranged a meeting with Chaisson in Granbury and secretly recorded their conversation with a recorder stashed in her bra.
On that two-hour tape, he described to her, in detail, what he did to her. He blamed her for it. He tells her she wouldn’t understand because she isn’t a man. He praises himself by saying that at least “I kept you a virgin, didn’t I?”
Most importantly, he confessed. Over and over and over again.
Because of that, he’ll spend the rest of his life in prison, a McLennan County jury recently decided.
A few years ago, the woman, who was called Jane Doe in court, decided to get therapy. Obsessive-compulsive disorder ruled her days, and she found it difficult to maintain romantic relationships, according to interviews she gave to the Waco Tribune-Herald and the Daily Beast.
In therapy, she learned that her problems likely stemmed from the abuse by Chaisson, more than 15 years ago.
At first, he rubbed and scratched her back, and just cuddled with the child. Then he made a habit of climbing into her bed at night, as she tried to sleep.
Chaisson began pushing his genitals between her legs and forcing her hand to rub him. Eventually, he performed oral sex on her.
Through therapy, Jane Doe realized that she needed to confront this painful past. And she had a pretty good idea of how she could do it. After all, she had just been trained as a law enforcement officer.
“I’ve always, always wanted to be a detective,” she told the Daily Beast. “I was fresh out of the academy. It was kind of, ‘If he’s going to talk, he’s going to talk.’ How do I prove it?
“I thought to myself: I’m the difference between him and prison.”
Doe decided it was her responsibility to put him away for good while facing her own past.
“My job is in law enforcement,” she told the Waco paper. “I’m held to a higher standard. I just want to protect people, and how can I do that if I can’t even protect myself?”
So in September 2014, then 25, she told McLennan County Sheriff’s Detective Brad Bond everything she could remember about the abuse. The two decided she could get him to confess, on tape.
So she called Chaisson.
Jane Doe presented a good reason for the conversation: She was in therapy and needed closure.
“He knew that I was in counseling and he knew I wanted to talk about the abuse,” she told the paper.
In a 25-minute phone recording that was played in court, Chiasson insisted that they meet in person so he could present his side of the story.
“We need to talk, but not on the phone,” Chaisson said. “We need to sit down and talk face to face. Then you can explain and I can explain. There are always two sides to every story.”
“How can there be two sides?” she asked.
“Everything has two sides. If you want to meet, maybe we can go through some scenarios and have some closures,” Chaisson said.
They arranged a meeting in a public park in Granbury, and she prepared herself, mentally and physically.
She borrowed a recording device from a friend who also worked in law enforcement and hid it in her bra. She armed herself with her pistol. She arranged for her friend to watch the meeting with Chaisson from her truck, parked about 75 yards away.
She took a deep breath.
She told the Daily Beast what happened.
When she arrived at the park, Chaisson was on a bench, holding a cigarette.
“My heart was racing,” she said.
So many things could go wrong.
But nothing did. He poured out the truth.
“He was talking like he was talking to his best friend,” she told the Daily Beast. “Six times, he confessed in the first hour and a half of that recording.”
He confessed, but he said, “You’re putting, trying to put all the blame on me.” He attempted to shift the blame by saying things like “I always stopped myself before I went too far,” “It takes two” and “I kept you a virgin, didn’t I?”
“You need to control your curiosity. I wasn’t supposed to be the friend you played nasty with,” Chaisson told her. “I’d be laying on the couch and then you got that look in your eyes. I’d pull the covers up and you’d come run in and jump under there and back up all the way to me. In the mornings, cuddle up to you, scratch your back.”
He also blamed male physiology.
“If you had a penis, you would know,” he said.
Police were pleased but surprised.
“We don’t ever get stuff like that,” Detective Bond told The Daily Beast. “It’s better than a confession. Even when they confess, they don’t give us all of the details. It was even better.”
Prosecutors played the two-hour tape in its entirety for the jury.
“A life prison term is the only just punishment,” prosecutor Andrew Erwin told the jury during the trial, the Waco Tribune-Herald reported.
Chaisson was represented by Stephen Gordon and Christy Jack, both longtime Tarrant County prosecutors now in private practice in Fort Worth. Jack is chairwoman of the board of the Texas Civil Commitment Office, which deals with violent sex offenders.
“Can you consider mercy? Can you consider grace? He is going to prison no matter what you do,” Gordon told the jury. “He’s going to be a registered sex offender for the rest of his life.”
The judge and jury agreed with Erwin.
On Aug. 26, Chaisson was convicted of aggravated sexual assault of a child and two counts of indecency with a child by contact. Because of his previous conviction and Texas’ “two strikes and you’re out” statute for child abuse convictions, he automatically received a life sentence.
He will spend at least 42 years in prison before he’s eligible for parole, the Waco paper reported. By then, he’ll be 89.
One other woman testified during the trial, and others came forward to prosecutors afterward.
As for Jane Doe, she told the Daily Beast it feels like “a weight lifting over my shoulders.”
“I no longer have to hide the secret or bear the responsibility of it.”
THIS REPORT INCLUDES INFORMATION FROM THE STAR-TELEGRAM ARCHIVES.