Man who ID’d himself to police with sex offender card at Conroe Catholic school sentenced to 99 years in prison

James Ray Bates (Montgomery County Sheriff's Office, Montgomery County Sheriff's Office)

CONROE, Texas – A jury sentenced a sex offender to 99 years in prison on Wednesday, officials said.

James Ray Bates, 65, received the sentence for failing to comply with his sex offender registration requirements.

Prosecutors said they presented evidence that Bates was unlawfully present at the Sacred Heart Catholic School on April 26, 2019. At the time, both students and teachers were outside the school building, following a Friday morning Mass. Prosecutors said Bates walked through a line of students and approached a student’s father to ask for money for food. The father offered to provide Bates food directly, but Bates rejected the offer, began yelling and refused to leave. Prosecutors said a Conroe Police Department officer providing security at Sacred Heart arrested Bates when he produced his sex offender registration card as a means to identify himself, prosecutors said.

Following a conviction by the jury for the offense of failure to comply with sex offender registration requirements, prosecutors presented evidence of the Bate’s extensive criminal history and pattern of predatory behavior. The jury heard evidence that Bates went to prison on three separate occasions throughout the 1980s and 1990s. In 2001, Bates was convicted and sentenced to prison for aggravated sexual assault and burglary of a habitation in Tarrant County. These convictions required Bates to register as a sex offender for life.

A Fort Worth police officer testified that Bates forced entry into a hospital room and sexually assaulted an elderly woman recovering from hip surgery. A Conroe police officer and a detective testified about their 2018 arrest and investigation of Bates for breaking into an assisted living facility. The investigation revealed that Bates was in the apartments of two female residents. One resident was 103 years old, and the second resident was 93 years old. Another Conroe police officer testified about his 2017 arrest of Bates for indecent exposure in the Hobby Lobby parking lot.

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Amanda Cochran is an Edward R. Murrow award-winning journalist. She specializes in Texas features, consumer and business news and local crime coverage.