Houston County Man Accused of Sexual Abuse of A Minor, Firing at Law Enforcement


By Greg Ritchie

Messenger Reporter

HOUSTON COUNTY –  James Edmond Level was booked Monday, May 8 in the Houston County Jail, accused of continuous sexual abuse of a minor and two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon after he allegedly fired at officers near his residence. 

Level was originally to be arrested April 14 on the sexual abuse charge, but as Houston County Sheriff Randy Hargrove noted at the time, “While officers were attempting track the suspect with a K-9, they encountered the suspect in the wooded area. He was armed with multiple firearms. Shots were exchanged between the suspect and officers. The suspect was hit multiple times. Officers administered first aid to the suspect until EMS arrived on-scene and transported him to an area hospital.”

Although no officers were injured, Level was eventually transported to a hospital in Tyler for treatment. The Messenger reported on the work the county went through to make sure Level was guarded during his stay, before being returned to Houston County. 

Released by doctors, Level has now been transported to the Houston County Jail to face the multiple charges against him. 

The initial allegations stemmed from an incident a few days before law enforcement attempted to arrest Level. 

Representatives from Kailin’s Center were holding a public information meeting recently when a young child, under 14-years-old, approached them and told of a series of abuses she had allegedly received. 

Upon further investigation, Deputy Ryan Hutcherson from the Houston County Sheriff’s Office spoke with the Kalin’s Center representative who repeated what the girl had told them and that it was possible a sibling was possibly a victim, too. 

Hutcherson set up an interview at Kalin’s and brought the two siblings for forensic interviews, where one of the two repeated her allegations, while the other sibling had nothing to say on the matter. 

After the forensic interviews, the Kalin’s Center representative asked one of the siblings, “Do you have anything else you want to tell me?” The sibling then told the investigator the sibling had in fact witnessed abuse by Level. 

The victim described several incidents of abuse, even recounting how the alleged incidents began and in the case of one incident, the exact day. After other investigators confirmed the child’s testimony, Hutcherson applied for an arrest warrant. 

As of press time, Level is being held in the Houston County Jail. For the alleged offense of continuous sex abuse of a child under the age of 14, Level was given a $150,000 bond. On the two charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon – stemming from his firing at law enforcement attempting to arrest him – Level faces a bond of $700,000, with a total of  $850,000 in bonds. 

The Messenger will have more on this story as it develops and more details are confirmed. 

All suspects are assumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. 

Greg Ritchie can be reached at [email protected] 

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