The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

He sexually abused her as a child. She became a police officer and hunted him down.

Erlis Joseph Chaisson. (Courtesy of the Texas Department of Public Safety)

Erlis Joseph Chaisson is a serial child molester.

He first spent time in prison for sexually assaulting an 8-year-old in Louisiana but was released in 1994, according to KXXV.

The 47-year-old might have remained free if one 27-year-old north central Texas police officer hadn’t gone far above the call of duty.

The two weren’t strangers. In fact, they’re relatives.

And their pasts dovetail in a horrific way. For four years, Chaisson had sexually abused her when she was a young girl, forcing her to rub his penis and performing oral sex on her.

It began when she was 8 years old.

She became a cop. And in 2014, more than 15 years after the abuse, she arranged a meeting with him and secretly recorded their conversation.

She had a recorder stashed away in her bra, capturing the entire traumatic conversation.

On that two-hour tape, he described to her, in detail, what he did to her. He blames her for it. He tells her she wouldn’t understand because she doesn’t possess male genitalia. He praises himself by saying that at least, “I kept you a virgin, didn’t I?”

Most importantly, he confessed. Over and over and over again.

Because of that, he’ll spend life in prison, a jury recently decided.

The officer’s name has not been made public and The Washington Post does not name victims of sexual abuse.

A few years ago, the officer decided to begin attending therapy. She learned that her issues likely stemmed from the abuse Chaisson heaped upon her from the ages of 8 to 12 — more than 15 years ago. At first, he would rub and scratch her back, cuddling with the child. Then he made a habit of climbing into her bed at night, as she tried to sleep.

It escalated.

Chaisson began gyrating his genitals between her legs, forcing her hand to rub them. Eventually, he performed oral sex on her.

Through therapy, Doe realized she needed to confront this painful past. And she had a pretty good idea of how she could do it — after all, she had just been trained as a police officer.

“I’ve always, always wanted to be a detective,” she told the Daily Beast. “I was fresh out of the academy. It was kind of, ‘If he’s going to talk, he’s going to talk’ — how do I prove it?”

Added Doe, “I thought to myself: I’m the difference between him and prison.”

Doe decided it was her responsibility to put this predator away for good while facing her own past — two birds with one stone.

“My job is in law enforcement,” she told the Waco Tribune-Herald. “I’m held to a higher standard. I just want to protect people, and how can I do that if I can’t even protect myself?”

So in September 2014, the then-25-year-old told McLennan County Sheriff’s Detective Brad Bond everything she could remember about the abuse. The two decided she could get him to confess, on tape.

So she called Chaisson.

Doe presented a good reason for the conversation — she was in therapy and needed closure.

“He knew that I was in counseling and he knew I wanted to talk about the abuse,” she told the Waco Tribune-Herald.

In the 25-minute phone recording, which was played in court, Chaisson insisted they meet in person to have the conversation, so he could present his side of the story.

“We need to talk, but not on the phone,” Chaisson said. “We need to sit down and talk face to face. Then you can explain and I can explain. There are always two sides to every story.”

“How can there be two sides?” she asked.

“Everything has two sides. If you want to meet, maybe we can go through some scenarios and have some closures,” Chaisson said.

They arranged a meeting in a public park in Granbury, Texas, and she prepared herself — both mentally and physically.

She borrowed a tape recorder from a friend who also worked in law enforcement and hid the device in her bra. She armed herself with her pistol. She arranged for her friend to observe her meeting with Chaisson from her truck, parked about 75 yards from the bench where they were meeting.

She took a deep breath.

In an interview with the Daily Beast, she explained what happened that day.

When she arrived to the park, Chaisson was on a bench, holding a cigarette.

“My heart was racing,” she said.

So many things could go wrong, and the idea of him actually confessing to what he had done likely seemed absurd at that point.

But it shouldn’t have. He poured out the truth.

“He was talking like he was talking to his best friend,” she told the Daily Beast. “Six times, he confessed — in the first hour and a half of that recording.”

He confessed, but he said, “You’re putting, trying to put all the blame on me.” He attempted to shift the blame by saying things like, “I always stopped myself before I went too far,” “It takes two” and “I kept you a virgin, didn’t I?”

He continued.

“You need to control your curiosity. I wasn’t supposed to be the friend you played nasty with,” Chaisson told her. “I’d be laying on the couch and then you got that look in your eyes. I’d pull the covers up and you’d come run in and jump under there and back up all the way to me. In the mornings, cuddle up to you, scratch your back.”

He also blamed his biological sex.

“If you had a penis, you would know,” he said.

Police were pleased to capture the confession but shocked.

“We don’t ever get stuff like that,” Det. Bond told The Daily Beast. “It’s better than a confession. Even when they confess, they don’t give us all of the details. It was even better.”

Prosecutors played the two-hour tape in its entirety for the jury.

“I don’t think you can hear that recording — no matter who you are — and have it not have an impact on you,” District Attorney Gabrielle Massey told the Daily Beast.

“A life prison term is the only just punishment,” Prosecutor Andrew Erwin told the jury during the trial, the Waco Tribune-Herald reported.

Stephen Gordon, the attorney representing Chaisson, begged for mercy.

“Can you consider mercy? Can you consider grace? He is going to prison no matter what you do,” Gordon said. “He’s going to be a registered sex offender for the rest of his life.”

The judge and jury agreed with Erwin.

He was convicted of aggravated sexual assault of a child and two counts of indecency with a child by contact on Aug. 26, which led to automatic life sentence.

He will spend at least 42 years in prison before he’s eligible for parole, the Waco Tribune-Herald reported. By that point, he’ll be 89 years old.

One other victim testified during the trial, and others found the courage to come forward to prosecutors after the trial.

As for the detective, she told the Daily Beast it feels like “a weight lifting over my shoulders.”

“I no longer have to hide the secret or bear the responsibility of it.”