Haunting history: injury to disabled charge warrants peek into perverse past

Jermaine Champs from Facebook.com

A man once facing charges for allegedly holding a woman hostage, torturing her and raping her repeatedly for five weeks has now been indicted on first-degree felony charges amid accusations that he beat up a 21-year-old autistic man before attacking the victim with a sword.

A Jefferson County grand jury indicted Jermaine Champs, 41, of Port Arthur for injury to a disabled person Jan. 18 after the alleged attack on the autistic victim. The charge is Champs’ most recent in a long line of criminal offenses stretching out over several years that include multiple incidents of family violence, particularly against women, documented in county and district courts in Jefferson and Harris counties.

According to the probable cause affidavit for Champs’ arrest last month, officers with the Port Arthur Police Department (PAPD) responded to a residence in the 900 block of Ninth Street in reference to an assault at about 3 p.m. on Dec. 28, 2017. A witness at the scene told an officer she and Champs had been arguing over his cheating when Champs began to pummel her repeatedly in the face and head with a closed fist. When her 21-year old autistic son attempted to intervene, Champs allegedly gave him the same treatment, beating the disabled man about the face and head. Champs then left the room but, according to the PC affidavit, soon came back with a sword. He allegedly started swinging it toward the autistic man, whose hands and fingers were injured in the battle. At one point, the witness told police, the victim grabbed the sword and turned it on his attacker, cutting Champs’ hand in the process.

After receiving medical clearance, Champs was transported to the Jefferson County Jail, a place he has become quite familiar with over the last several years.

Champs spent nearly all of a four-year sentence in county lockup after being convicted of assault-family violence, enhanced due to multiple prior charges of the same crime. Although enhanced, the third-degree felony charge was a reduction in the original charges he faced for the 2013 incident. Initially, he faced first-degree charges of aggravated kidnapping and aggravated rape. Champs was arrested on the more serious charges April 8, 2013, when a girlfriend of his told police she had just escaped her lover after being held prisoner by Champs for approximately five weeks starting on or about March 1, 2013.

The victim told police she dated Champs for about a week before he beat her and dragged her into a darkened bedroom, holding her prisoner behind barred windows and doors, music blaring to drown out her cries for help so as not to alert neighbors. The victim said Champs covered the windows of the bedroom and often took the light bulb out of the fixture in the room, depriving her of its only source of light. The woman was only allowed to leave the room with Champs’ permission and under his supervision, according to the PC affidavit for his arrest.

A neighbor told police Champs kept his house secure, locking the door and bolting his barred barrier from the out- side.

In describing her ordeal to officers, the victim said she endured “daily brutal beatings” by Champs, who allegedly “used his hands, belts and scarves to choke (the victim) into unconsciousness countless times for his pleasure. Champs threatened to kill (the victim) if she so much as asked for food and water. He decided when she could eat, drink and bathe out of a plastic water bottle or sleep. At one point, Champs filled a large tub with water, placed a portable electric heater into the water, plugged it in and threatened to put (the victim) in the energized water and electrocute her.”

In a single incident, the victim said Champs strangled her into unconsciousness somewhere between six and eight times, then woke her by striking her in the head with his hand or fist and reportedly yelling, “Wake up bitch, wake up; I ain’t through with you yet.”

The woman told officers Champs sexually assaulted her no less than 25 times, both anally and vaginally.

“(The victim) was turned into Champs’ resident slave for anything that gave him pleasure,” reads the PC affidavit.

The woman told police she was only able to escape when Champs made the mistake of leaving her in the car with the keys in the ignition. She had been too terrified to try to get away while within her captor’s reach, she told police, but as he walked around the corner and out of view at the Dollar General on Gulfway Drive in Port Arthur, she gathered her courage and made her move. As soon as she was a safe distance from the store, she called police. Champs was arrested hours later.

The Examiner uncovered the twisted tale and reported on the alleged events in January 2014 as Champs remained in the Jefferson County Jail on two $1 million bonds since his arrest April 8, 2013. (The bonds were later reduced to $250,000 each, but Champs remained in jail until sentencing.)

Champs was sentenced to four years in prison Oct. 21, 2016, for assault-family violence after the first-degree felony charges against him were dismissed as part of a plea deal in Judge Raquel West’s 252nd Court in Jefferson County. According to the DA’s office, the victim refused to come back to the area to testify, which prosecutors say is not uncommon in sexual assault cases as women often do not want to relive the experience by rehashing events at a trial.

Since Champs had already been in county jail nearly three and a half years, he only had months left to serve at the time of his conviction. He was transferred to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) Holliday Unit where he completed his sentence. He was released on parole March 1, 2017.

The victim in that crime was not Champs’ first female accuser. In fact, in 2011 he pleaded guilty to three counts of assault – family violence, all Class A misdemeanor charges, against three different females, including his now former wife. According to Port Arthur detectives who worked the case, her account of abuse she endured from Champs was at times eerily similar to scenarios described by the victim in the 2013 assault.

Police said she detailed instances when her then-husband kept her prisoner through intimidation and deadly threats.

According to case records, the ex-wife told them she was “terrified” to call for help or try to get away from Champs at the time of the abuse. If her statement to police is any indication, she had every reason to be fearful.

“I got in the bath,” stated the victim, described as visibly upset with tears in her eyes. “He plugged in the heater, this little electric heater. He plugged it up and he was threatening to throw it in there (in the bath). I thought he was going to kill me.”

The woman also reportedly told police that Champs choked her into unconsciousness on an almost daily basis during their relationship, just like his other victim alleged. She said at one point Champs held her prisoner too, locking her in a bedroom of their shared home for three weeks.

Assault – family violence charges were filed against Champs in Jefferson County for the spousal abuse that reportedly occurred on or around May 18, 2009. Another female victim accused Champs of abusing her March 31, 2010. And yet another victim reported Champs abused her Oct. 20, 2010. Champs was facing the three assault-family violence charges at the same time he was accused of misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance. In exchange for pleading guilty to the three counts of family violence, the possession charge against Champs was dismissed, and he was sentenced to 90 days for each of the assault cases, to run concurrently. So, in effect, Champs spent about three months in county jail for violence against three different women.

On social media and apparently among his associates, the 41-year-old defendant goes by monikers like K3LSO (Kelso) and Batman, posting photos of himself and his “Justice League” pals “living the vampire life … at d batcave, [sic]” which looks like a bedroom with notes scrawled on the door.

He also refers to himself as Batman713, the numbers being a Houston area code, the city he identifies as his hometown. Over the past several years, when not behind bars, he has had addresses in Nederland and Port Arthur.

Champs’ superhero nickname is indicative of a fantastical imagination, and entries in a journal collected by police as evidence at the time of the 2013 assault demonstrate more than a casual interest in the macabre.

A description of the journal’s bizarre and often perverse content follows, and readers should proceed with caution.

In the depraved diary, Champs kept gruesome news clippings pertaining to serial killers, torture and more. A picture of a guillotine adorns one page. Adolph Hitler’s picture with the numbers 666 written underneath decorates another leaf. An article about a woman found dead in her husband’s storage unit and another about a serial killer’s stayed execution are also tacked inside the bound book. Yet another tells of a killer captured after ineptly attempting to dispose of his victim’s body parts, and a separate article describes the torture one man endured – horrific photos included.

Probably the most interesting article within the journal’s pages is one regarding a letter an anonymous source wrote to police attempting to negotiate a price for the name of a killer responsible for the deaths of two teenagers in Houston in 1990. According to the report of the incident, a teenage boy and girl were killed, and their bodies were later found bound by rope. The boy’s hands and feet were tied, and his throat slit. The girl’s hands were bound, she was gagged, and signs indicated she had been sexually assaulted.

A letter, mailed to the Houston Chronicle in 2001, demanded $100,000 for the identity of the murderer. The author of the note instructed police to contact the publication and an attorney would accept the payment. Police had an article published in the Chronicle alongside a copy of the letter seeking help in identifying the person who wrote it. Much later, police said, Champs confessed while in custody to writing the letter but told police he did not com- mit the murders.

Champs reportedly told detectives he just wanted the money demanded in the correspondence, but a further look into his writings and interests provides proof of twisted thoughts.

In a handwritten entry titled “A million ways to die” Champs describes “sadism” and his desire to “enslave” women. Champs wrote, “To make her a mindless object of my will … to be her god … to humiliate her … to enslave her … make her suffer. There is no greater power. Pleasure is the complete domination of another.”

Additionally, and even more disturbing, Champs wrote what appears to be a fantasy narrative about stabbing and raping a woman. He describes how the killer “slipped on her blood” while dragging her into her living room after brutally stabbing her and before violently raping her.

Along with the articles and fantasy narratives are disturbing drawings, one of a devil face alongside a coiled snake ready to strike, and references to texts such as the Grimoire of Pope Honorius, an occult book of spells and incantation claiming to be written by Pope Honorius III and described on Amazon.com as “the first and most important of the French ‘black magic’ grimoires which proliferated across Europe in the 17th-19th centuries.” Champs refers to the grimoire multiple times in the journal.

But it’s his violent history, not his interest in the occult, that is likely going to be a factor in his final sentencing. Judges and juries often assess longer prison sentences to perpetrators with violent criminal histories. Perpetrators like Champs.

In addition to his convictions for multiple misdemeanor assaults and the felony assault, along with the new charge of injury to a disabled person, drug arrests also appear when looking into his criminal history. Champs was convicted of delivery of a controlled substance, a state jail felony, in Harris County in 2006 for cocaine, and he also was also charged with misdemeanor marijuana possession in the 1990s. He has also been arrested for cocaine possession in Jefferson County.

If convicted of the first-degree felony assault of a disabled person, Champs faces between five to 99 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000.