Submitted by John Schomburger, Collin County
Justin Dale Barto, 31, of Dallas, was sentenced today to life without parole for continually molesting three children over a six-year period, announced Collin County District Attorney Greg Willis.
Barto was the family friend of two of the children he molested, and the legal father of the other child victim. He began molesting the oldest victim beginning when she was age 9. Barto and his daughter were homeless after his 2005 divorce, so they moved into the McKinney home of a couple with 10 children.
He soon began molesting one of the daughters in the home when she was 9 years old. He continued to abuse her, and began to escalate the assaults by subjecting her to violence and humiliation until she was 14. This included threats, brandishing of knives, and even tying her up during the abuse. She kept it a secret, until one night at the age of 15, she said goodnight to her family and went to her room and swallowed a bottle of pills intending to die because of the abuse. After being found by her family and taken to the hospital, she finally revealed Barto’s abuse to doctors.
Sergeant Chris Meehan of the Collin County Sheriff’s Office immediately began an investigation, which revealed Barto had also sexually abused two other girls. One of the girls was the 8-year-old sister of the initial victim, and the other victim was Barto’s own legal daughter. Barto began abusing his daughter starting when she was three years old and continued until she was seven. Sgt. Meehan obtained a search warrant for Barto’s residence in Dallas and seized several items, including weapons, handcuffs and computers that corroborated the children’s descriptions of abuse. Meehan found in Barto’s bedroom approximately 300 images and videos of child pornography stored on external hard drives.
The jury returned a guilty verdict on Wednesday on two cases of continuous sexual abuse of a child and two counts of indecency with a child. After the punishment hearing, the jury sentenced Barto to Life without parole on the continuous sexual abuse of a child charges, and 20 years with $10,000 fines on each of the indecency with a child charges.
Assistant Criminal District Attorneys Shannon Miller and Daniel Lewis prosecuted the case and were assisted by District Attorney Investigators Greg Bowers, Kenny Newton and legal secretary Sandy Schilling. Judge Richard Davis presided over the case.