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Ex-camp counselor takes plea in child molestation

KERRVILLE — A former counselor at Camp LaJunta pleaded guilty to injury to a child Tuesday under a deal struck with prosecutors as jurors deliberated at his trial on charges of aggravated sexual assault of a child and indecency with a child.

Matthew S. Bovee, 22, was sentenced to 10 years of probation, fined $500 and ordered by state District Judge Rex Emerson to perform 200 hours of community service and abide by sex-offender conditions, records show.

Bovee, a Nebraska native who worked at the boys camp in Hunt in 2009, declined comment afterward.

Prosecutors agreed to the settlement, which involved filing a substitute charge after the jury failed to reach a verdict Friday on the original charges after seven hours of deliberations. They were slated to resume Tuesday.

“We were concerned that this would be a hung jury and we would be forced to bring a small child again to the witness stand,” prosecutor Brad McCullouch said.

The boy, now 11, testified last week that Bovee fondled him as he emerged from a shower at the summer camp.

Bovee didn’t testify, but in a police interview that was played for jurors, he denied molesting the boy.

“We’re happy it’s over,” the boy’s father said as the family departed for their Houston home. “We’ve been irreparably hurt and we’ll never be the same.”

He said the family is “incredibly disappointed” in camp officials who, according to former counselor James Vernor, were alerted to his concerns about how Bovee physically checked campers to ensure they’d showered.

Vernor testified at the four-day trial that he was merely … by supervisors to keep an eye on Bovee.

Reacting outside court Tuesday, camp director Blake Smith said he wasn’t familiar with Vernor’s testimony but was confident that action would have been taken if suspicious conduct by Bovee had been reported to camp supervisors.

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