On October 5, 2022, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals upheld the two convictions of Stoyan Anastassov for the second-degree felony of indecency with a child by contact. The jury assessed punishment at nine years in prison on one charge, three years on the other, and a $10,000 fine for each conviction. The case and trials were in Dallas, Texas.
Anastassov was a tennis coach at several schools in Dallas County in the early 2000s ran the Dallas Tennis Academy.
On May 27, 2015, a Dallas County grand jury issued indictments for the two charges of indecency with a child.
The offenses stemmed from alleged inappropriate sexual contact Anastassov had with a 13-year-old eighth-grade student in 2011. The girl was under his professional tennis tutelage, not as a teacher to a student in a school setting. The alleged contacts occurred on two different occasions in two separate places.
As often happens in child sexual assault cases, the student kept the alleged sexual abuse secret for several years until she learned that Anastassov had been hired by the school she attended and would teach other students there.
In forensic terms, this is known as a “delayed outcry,” which under Texas law permits the first adult to whom a child abuse victim reports the abuse, to testify about what the victim told that adult.
Texas law is generous to prosecutors seeking to introduce outcry evidence of child sexual assault victims.
There is no statute of limitations for four child sexual assault crimes: aggravated sexual assault of a child, sexual assault of a child, continuous sexual assault of a child, and indecency with a child, which was alleged in the Anastassov case.
A child sex victim can wait decades before reporting the alleged abuse, and a person can be convicted based solely on that delayed outcry. Texas law allows a conviction to be supported by the testimony of a child alone.
Defense attorneys argued there was something fundamentally flawed about the victim’s accusation in the Anastassov case.
She was 13 at the time of the alleged offenses and was 17 when she reported them to the proper authorities. During those four years of silence, she had no concern with the prospect of Anastassov abusing other underage minors. It was only after he secured employment at the school she attended that she became concerned about other possible victims.
Two other underage students testified at Anastassov’s punishment phase during his trial that he had engaged in inappropriate sexual contact with them as well—contacts that allegedly occurred during the four years of the victim’s silence.
There was some evidence presented at trial that there was “bad blood” between the victim’s parents and Anastassov—apparently because the parents felt Anastassov had not fully developed their daughter’s tennis skills.
Because of this “bad blood” between the victim and her parents with the tennis coach, the defense argued, it was reasonable to believe the victim’s delayed outcry was not due to either embarrassment or guilt. She could have easily reported the abuse to her parents in 2011 as she did in 2015. It was suspect that she would suddenly have the urge to outcry after learning that Anastassov would be developing tennis skills in her fellow students, as some testified at trial that he did, in ways that she had been incapable of achieving under his tutelage in 2011. The defense argued the evidence supported the conclusion that she was jealous.
It will never be known why the child delayed in making the outcry, but what is known is that with his direct appeal now finalized, Stoyan Anastassov is a fully convicted child sex offender. Below are some of the legal consequences he will suffer because of that adjudication:
- Imprisonment in a state penal facility where child sex offenders are discriminated against in harsh terms by both inmates and prison staff alike.
- Anastassov must pay $20,000 in fines.
- Anastassov must serve half his sentence to be eligible for parole.
- Upon release from prison, he will have lifetime sex offender registration with the Texas Department of Public Safety under Penal Code Sec. 21.11(a)(1).
- His professional reputation and career as a professional tennis coach are destroyed.
- As a convicted felon, he cannot own or possess guns in any state, and he will suffer other disabilities due to his felony conviction for a sex offense.
Other consequences for sex offenders are:
- Most state and federal education grants are not available to convicted felons, and most colleges and universities have internal criteria prohibiting accepting child sex offenders as students.
- A child sex offense conviction can affect custody rights and visitation privileges with children during divorce proceedings and court-ordered visitation.
- The police may forfeit a sex offender’s home, property, or vehicle used to facilitate a child sex offense.
- Lifetime stigmatization, including exclusion from social organizations, certain religious groups, and professional associations.
- Housing opportunities are greatly restricted for child sex offenders, especially those on parole.
- Family and personal relationships will be adversely affected.
Because of harsh sentences, lifetime sex offender registration, and lifelong disabilities, an individual charged with a child sex offense must ensure that a thorough defense is conducted before making any decisions about their case. No plea agreement should be considered until:
- All pretrial discovery has been completed and evidence evaluated;
- A thorough investigation of both the law and facts of the case has been conducted; and
- Exhaustive plea negotiations have been completed, and all the mitigating factors have been considered.
While all child sex cases differ, the State is bound to prove every essential element of the crime charged beyond a reasonable doubt, and defense counsel is required to present an effective, appropriate defense. Many people, primarily men, falsely accused of child sex offenses, sit wrongfully convicted because prosecutors, judges, and even their own lawyers, believe that children never lie about sex crimes. A defense lawyer who cannot emotionally overcome the natural aversion to these allegations, believes that children never lie, or has no training and experience combatting these cases should consider referring them to another lawyer.
If you are under investigation for a child sex offense, you must secure an experienced defense attorney immediately. Despite the psychological compulsion to defend yourself against this most atrocious allegation, do not try to talk your way through it. Even seemingly innocent answers can corroborate details of a child’s story. Do not talk to family members, the victim’s parents, CPS, or law enforcement without first consulting an experienced lawyer who can guide you through the minefield of a child sex investigation.