Judge Bob Carroll of the 40th Judicial District Court ordered former Ellis County Observer publisher Joey Dauben during a hearing Friday, April 20 to forfeit his website to the state.
The muckraker said in a telephone interview he is consulting with an attorney and plans to continue fighting what he views as Ellis County prosecutors’ and theRed Oak Police Department’s efforts to silence him by keeping his Freedom of the Press LLC operation shut down.
“I have 30 days to request a new trial,” said Dauben, who represented himself during the hearing. “If that doesn’t happen — if the judge doesn’t allow it — then I’m going to file an appeal.”
Dauben accused Ellis County prosecutors of “criminalizing a civil case.” The Red Oak man should be suing him for libel rather than his being prosecuted on criminal charges, the publisher said.
“If this is allowed to happen, it will start a dangerous precedent,” Dauben said. “No newspaper or other media outlet will be safe from police action.”
Dauben said the attorneys with whom he has consulted have described the case as “bizarre” and unprecedented.
The forfeiture action was taken against Dauben in connection with a criminal complaint filed by a Red Oak man whom Dauben accused of child molestation last year and identified by name, address, phone number and work history.
Dauben wrote the story about the man based on information and documents provided by the man’s ex-wife, who later was charged with filing a false police report.
The publisher, who also is charged with sexual assault of a 15-year-old male teenager four years ago in Navarro County, was indicted by an Ellis County grand jury in January while he was being held in jail in Corsicana. Dauben was charged with “fraudulent use or possession of identifying information” by Ellis County.
Dauben said he believes all of the charges, including the allegation that he engaged in oral and anal sex with the teenager during a church camping trip, came about as a conspiracy to put him away in prison so he can’t report about corruption in the two counties.
Dauben, who has maintained he is falsely charged and innocent, was jailed on $200,000 bond for two months. When the court appointed a lawyer to represent him after he declared he was indigent and filed several requests for legal help, his bond was lowered to $50,000.
He is required to wear an ankle monitor, report weekly to probation officers in Ellis County and Navarro County, refrain from Internet use and not get within 200 yards of any minors.