A teenager from Plano, Texas, who committed to playing baseball at Oklahoma State University in the fall will instead be facing trial. Zachary Holifield, 17, is charged as an adult with two counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child and one count of indecency with a child by sexual contact, after being accused of sexually molesting two children at his mother's day care.
According to reports, a 5-year-old girl told police that "Zach" would wait until his mother left the day care and then take her into the bathroom, where he would make her perform a sex act. The girl told investigators that he had been taking her to the bathroom since she was 3 years old, and that there was another little girl at the facility whom he would pick up and carry to the bathroom. According to a probable cause affidavit, the girl said she "probably should not have told about Zack because it was supposed to be a secret."
Holifield, who verbally committed to OSU in April, was arrested on June 20 and has remained in jail on $600,000 bond since then. His case was moved from adult court to juvenile court before being moved back to adult court yesterday and having his bond reduced to $250,000.
The teen's attorney issued a statement about the case:
"Zach is, just like every citizen accused of a crime in this country, innocent until if proven guilty in a court of law.The fact that Zach has been charged in these cases mean nothing more. The information, as written by Plano PD investigators, is not what it appears to be."
Investigators, however, say that the teen admitted to at least three incidents of inappropriate sexual contact with the child.
Holifield's case was transferred from adult court to juvenile court after the defense argued that the alleged events occurred before he turned 17. However, the judge reversed his decision and sent the case back to adult court.
In Oklahoma, teens aged 15, 16, or 17 who are charged with lewd molestation are prosecuted as youthful offenders. Youthful Offender distinction allows for harsher penalties than would be ascribed in juvenile court, but allow greater chance for rehabilitation and release than an adult sentence. Most cases adjudicated in juvenile court allow the person to be released around his or her 18th birthday; youthful offenders typically remain in a juvenile facility until they reach the age of majority, but are then transferred to an adult facility to finish the sentence.
Learn more about Oklahoma's Youthful Offender Act here.