Criminal charges were pending Saturday when a former Wharton County sheriff’s deputy appears to have committed suicide in a cemetery outside of Seymour.
A grand jury seal remains on the indictments, according to Wharton County officials, although the contents of the documents have already prompted wild speculations and community outrage due to social media postings.
James Elliott, 58, however, was never convicted of any crime before his death. A grand jury indictment is not an indication of guilt, but is a decision that means a prosecutor has enough evidence to proceed with a criminal trial.
The most telling indicator of the allegations comes from the August indictment of his wife Misty Jensen Elliott, 45, of 360 Brent. She faces a felony charge of endangering a child by failing to respond to an outcry of sexual abuse and report the claims to law enforcement. James Elliott is listed in the indictment.
Wharton County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a disturbance at Elliott’s home at 12:24 a.m. Saturday, July 18. “During the investigation, an outcry was made that implicated inappropriate sexual conduct by Deputy James Elliott,” Sheriff Shannon Srubar said.
The Texas Attorney General’s Office was handling prosecution with the assistance of the Department of Public Safety. The Texas Rangers began an investigation July 20.
All Wharton County officials recused themselves as Elliott was a man they knew and had worked with for years.
A law enforcement officer since 1993, Elliott came to the WCSO from the Matagorda County Sheriff’s Department in 1996. His last post was civil deputy.
“On Monday, July 20, Deputy Elliott was suspended with pay pending the investigation. Elliott subsequently retired from the sheriff’s office on Aug. 13,” Srubar said.
On July 28, a protective order was issued against Elliott in the 329th District Court that required him to stay away from the person who made the outcry against him.
Wharton County officials offered no other comment on the pending cases.
Freedom of Information requests are pending by the Leader-News to local and state officials.
Elliott received several outstanding performance citations during his years of service, but also two sexual harassment complaints related to the treatment of female WCSO staffers. In both of those instances, he was suspended briefly.
Elliott was pronounced dead in the Bomarton Cemetery in the western portion of Baylor County at 12:50 p.m. Saturday by Baylor County Justice of the Peace Precinct 1 Rick Jeter.
An autopsy was ordered and conducted by the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office. Jeter said the preliminary autopsy result indicates he committed suicide, dying of gunshot wounds the chest and head.