(CLEVELAND, Texas) — A defendant who vanished from his Texas gang rape trial has been found guilty of aggravated sexual assault of a child.
Eric McGowen was not present for his conviction Thursday. He took off during a court break on Wednesday and the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office told ABC News Thursday that they are still looking for him.
McGowen was out of jail on bond during the trial, but after his disappearance Judge Mark Morefield issued an arrest warrant for him and increased the bond from $35,000 to $250,000. Testimony continued without him.
The Liberty County Sheriff’s Office told ABC News Thursday that they still have not found McGowen.
McGowen, 20, and 13 other adults are accused of repeatedly sexually assaulting an 11-year-old Texas girl over a three-month period in 2010. Six juvenile suspects have also been charged.
McGowen was the first defendant to face trial in a Liberty County court.
McGowen disappeared from the courthouse after a tearful testimony from the now-13-year-old victim. Her testimony included the showing of a graphic video of one of the assaults, according to KTRK.
The alleged assaults occurred in Cleveland, Tex., a town about 60 miles northeast of Houston.
The girl testified under a pseudonym since she is a minor and the victim of alleged sexual assaults.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys did not comment on the disappearance due to a court-issued gag order placed on those involved in the case.
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Sarah Anderson, Deseret News
Nick Valencia, Jason Hanna and Steve Almasy, CNN
Steve Almasy, CNN
Aaron Smith, CNN