Justice of the Peace Tom Gillam surrenders, bonds out; details of indictment shared

Published 3:45 pm Thursday, August 24, 2023

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Justice of the Peace Tom Gillam III surrendered himself to the county jail and bonded out Thursday after being indicted on a charge of official oppression related to sexual harassment.

Bond was set at $10,000, according to information from the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.

The charge of official oppression is a Class A misdemeanor.

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The allegation stems from an incident that allegedly occurred on or around June 28, 2022, in which Gillam sexually harassed a woman by making “unwelcome sexual advances, making requests for sexual favors and physical conduct of a sexual nature,” according to the indictment.

In the fall of 2022, the Texas Rangers were asked to conduct an investigation regarding allegations against Gillam, now 69.

The Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office recused itself from any potential prosecution of Gillam.

A statement from Liberty County District Attorney’s Office stated the office was appointed Pro Tem to prosecute the matter and “any resulting criminal charges regarding Justice of the Peace Tom Gillam III.”

“After careful review, this matter was presented by the Liberty County District Attorney, Jennifer Bergman, to a grand jury. Thereafter, Defendant Tom Gillam III, was indicted August 23, 2023, by a Jefferson County Grand Jury for the Class A Misdemeanor offense of Official Oppression PC 39.03 under (a)(3) – A public servant acting under color of his office or employment commits an offense if he intentionally subjects another to sexual harassment. Once Defendant Gillam has been arrested and processed for this crime, the indictment will be released.

“Given the nature of the charges against this public servant, and the facts presented, my office is committed to seeking justice for the victim and prosecuting this matter as it would in any other case,” Bergman said in the statement.

A call to Gillam’s cell phone was unanswered and the voicemail box was full.

Layne Walker, of Walker Law Firm, who is representing Gillam, called the allegation frivolous.

“We look forward to showing the community the judge has done nothing wrong,” Walker said.

Gillam has served as a Port Arthur City Councilman and justice of the peace as well as working with mentor programs to stem the flow of young men to the court system with Project Life Changers, as well as other programs working with truancy.

He has also served as a labor leader, volunteer at Texas Youth Commission at the Al Price Youth Facility, working with troubled kids, past Democratic Party precinct chair, served on the Citizen Ad Hoc Fire Committee, past president of Port Arthur Housing Authority Finance Committee, Port Arthur City Council member for nine years and served a mayor pro-tem, helped formulate low to moderate income home purchase for the city of Port Arthur and pastor of the Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ for a number of years, according to archive information.

But controversy has followed Gillam as well. In 2010, a female juvenile brought allegations claiming Gillam had sex with her on two occasions, one of which was at a vacant house in Port Arthur.

Gillam, who was represented by former State Sen. Carl Parker, was cleared of wrongdoing by a Jefferson County grand jury.

In 2017, the Precinct 8 judge was shot while in Houston. He was the on-call justice of the peace at the time of the Jan. 31, 2017, shooting.

Gillam told Houston police he received a phone call and pulled over in a business parking lot to take the call. While there he was approached by a woman asking for money and he refused but she came back at least two more times.

As he was leaving he saw a man in his rear view mirror walking quickly toward him and reaching under a hooded coat he was wearing to produce a pistol from his waistband, according to police reports.

Gillam reportedly grabbed his gun to defend himself but didn’t know if he struck the suspect. Gillam was shot and brought to a hospital for recovery.

In 2020, Gillam’s home was targeted by a gunman. No injuries were reported.