Smith County Precinct 2 Constable Joshua Black sought sexual favors via text from a woman wanting supervised visitation services from his business to see her child, according to prosecution attorneys on Wednesday at the start of his official oppression trial.
Black is charged with oppression and two counts of prostitution on accusations of offering supervised visitation services to a woman in exchange for sexual favors, according to the Nov. 5, 2020, indictments. Ahead of opening statements, he entered a not guilty plea to the oppression charge.
After the morning testimony, Judge Austin Reeve Jackson revoked Black’s bond because Black was late to court by roughly an hour Wednesday. He later posted a $200,000 bond and was released from custody the same day.
The state on Wednesday called Texas Ranger Nic Castle, who investigated the case, and the alleged victim to testify.
Assistant District Attorney Richard Vance showed a series of text messages allegedly showing requests for sex in exchange for payment for supervised visitation services.
Vance said Black operates a company, Supervised Visitation Services of Tyler, dedicated to facilitating visitations for divorced or separated parents. He claimed Black used his position in law enforcement for his sexual, selfish desires.
“We have a man who wore a badge. He used that badge to prey on people,” Vance said.
During her opening statements, Black’s attorney Mishae Boren said the defense believes this was a one-sided investigation. She said the state will not be able to meet the standard of proving Black’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
“My client is innocent, and at the end of this trial, I’m going to ask you all to find him not guilty,” Boren said.
The prosecution said the messages showed Black flirting with the woman along with asking for sexual favors. Some messages included emojis that investigators determined could be sexual in nature, such as a peach emoji.
Castle testified that using emojis and slang terms, Black requested to see nude photos of the woman multiple times.
Vance said the texts showed Black made blatant requests for sex in exchange for the cost of the visitation services.
In one message screenshot, Black is accused of saying, “please try to communicate with me because I’m working diligently to let you see your baby girl.”
Castle and the alleged victim later testified Black did not explicitly say he would only accept sex for payment or that she couldn’t see her child if they didn’t have sex.
Castle said he obtained screenshots from the alleged victim and downloaded data from Black’s phone after getting a search warrant.
An interview between Black and Castle was also shown to the jury, in which Black said the messages indicating requests for sexual favors were joking and flirtatious behavior.
“I’m not that kind of guy. It’s embarrassing. I know it looks like my intent but it’s not. My intent was not to do what it looks like,” Black said in the video interview.
One screenshot shows Black saying the visitation fee is $50 an hour but for sex, they would be even.
A message allegedly from Black shows the use of money and peach emojis to convey compensation. Another message believed to be from Black asked the woman to see her “platinum” after she sent a photo of herself as a dancer, Castle said.
In the video interview between Black and Castle last year, Black said “platinum” meant he wanted to see her face. Black told Castle he was stupid to continue the conversations.
Castle testified that after that interview, he got the data from Black’s phone and later presented information to Smith County grand jury.
The alleged victim testified Black conducted a few visitation services for her and her ex-husband to see their child. She said when their texts became sexual, she played along.
“I’ve dealt with men and being an object. You don’t want to make someone mad that holds the power for you to see your child,” she said.
A friend encouraged her to say something when she began feeling uncomfortable. She reached out to the Texas Rangers and was later interviewed by Castle.
She believed the peach emojis Black is accused of sending had a sexual meaning.
She testified Black was professional during the supervised visits but unprofessional in the text messages regarding payment of the services.
Throughout the messages, the woman said sex was insinuated as a payment method more than money but not required.
Black is charged with two counts of prostitution in the Smith County Court at Law No. 2. The first charge is set to go to trial on Sept. 27.