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South Carolina Sex Offender Sentenced to Maximum on Four Child Sexual Abuse Cases

On Thursday, September 16, 2021, jurors in the 221st District Court, the Honorable Judge Lisa Michalk presiding, convicted Ralph William Gallagher, 31, of South Carolina on four felony charges. These charges were Sexual Performance by a Child, two cases of Indecency with a Child by Sexual Contact, and Possession of Child Pornography. The jury returned the punishment verdicts after 11 minutes, sentencing Gallagher to the maximum time allowed by law on each charge: Life and a $10,000 fine for Sexual Performance by a Child, Life on the two Indecency with a Child by Sexual Contact cases, and ten years and $10,000 fine for Possession of Child Pornography. Judge Michalk granted the State’s motion to cumulate or “stack” the sentences so that each sentence will begin after the previous sentence ends. Gallagher will not be eligible for parole until 2123.
In 2016, Gallagher moved in with the victims’ family part-time to help care for the family’s three children, ages 5, 7, and 9, after their mother was involved in an accident and placed on bed rest. From 2016 to 2019, Gallagher stayed with the family through each summer and every Christmas, even having a stocking hanging on the fireplace and referred to by the children occasionally as “Uncle Ralph.”

On the afternoon of December 5, 2019, Defendant returned to Montgomery County to stay with the family through the holidays. On December 6th, the oldest child (then 12 years old) went to school and broke down crying to a school counselor, revealing that Defendant had been touching her inappropriately and exposing himself to her for the last 2 ½ to 3 years. Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office on-call Detective Jason Buckner of the Special Victims Unit responded to the home and made contact with Defendant. Det. Buckner seized Gallagher’s cell phone to prevent him from leaving the state with possible electronic evidence.
The 12-year-old was interviewed by a Forensic Interviewer at Montgomery County’s Child Advocacy Center, Children’s Safe Harbor, and disclosed the specifics of her abuse, including information that Gallagher took pictures of her without clothes on. A cell phone search warrant was granted and the case was inherited by Det. Burdette Taylor with MCSO SVU in January 2020. Det. Taylor also received records from Gallagher’s Google and Dropbox accounts and located a sexually explicit image of the 12-year-old and a video containing child pornography from Christmas Eve 2016. Using a sanitized still image, the mother identified the boy in the video as her middle child, a boy who is on the autism spectrum and would have been 7-years-old on the date of the video.
After charges were filed related to both children, Det. Taylor enlisted the help of Department of Homeland Security Special Agent Jeffery Chappell, a member of the Internet Crimes Against Children task force in Montgomery County to execute the warrant for the Defendant’s cell phone. Agent Chappell successfully extracted the phone data and located numerous images of child pornography of the then 10-year old boy. The background of the images shows that they were taken during Gallagher’s stay in the home that began the evening of December 5, 2019.
The jury heard evidence from the oldest daughter describing how Defendant abused her so often over the years that she thought it happened in everyone’s house and was just a part of growing up. The now 14-year-old testified about how she wanted the abuse to stop and finally told her counselor at school. The jury also viewed the images of child abuse from Defendant’s phone and Dropbox showing Defendant abusing the middle child between 7 and 10 years old.
After convicting Gallagher of all four counts involving both children, the jurors learned that the Defendant was already a convicted sex offender required to register after his 2009 convictions on two cases of Sexual Exploitation of a Child in South Carolina, which is equivalent to Possession of Child Pornography in Texas. The jurors heard evidence that the youngest child also recently outcried to abuse by Gallagher between the ages of 5 and 7 to a Forensic Nurse during her medical examination. That’s when the jury learned that Gallagher had abused all three children for years.
This case was prosecuted by the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office Special Victims Unit sexual abuse team of Chief Prosecutor Lisa Stewart and Assistant District Attorney Wesley LeRouax. This case would not have been possible without the dedication of the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office SVU, Children’s Safe Harbor, Texas Forensic Nurse Examiners (TXFNE), and the Department of Homeland Security Investigations.
Chief Prosecutor Lisa Stewart: “These jurors saw and heard things that no one ever should, but they also met a heroic young girl that showed them that there is always a light in the darkness. While the evidence will leave its mark on them, the justice they served was a light that reached beyond the children in this family to children this Defendant will never have the chance to abuse.”

Assistant District Attorney Wesley LeRouax: “For years, Ralph Gallagher groomed these parents to trust him to care for their children while he groomed the three children to keep his crimes a secret. Justice was served this week because an amazing 12-year old was brave enough to fight back to reclaim her and her siblings’ childhood.”
District Attorney Brett Ligon: “Sex offenders are often master manipulators. They lie continuously and then burrow themselves into the life of the family to destroy it from the inside. That is exactly what happened here. This jury gave Gallagher three life sentences in eleven minutes. I suspect that if the jury could have lawfully given Gallagher even more punishment than they did, they would have done so without reservation or hesitation. He certainly deserves every day of his adjudged sentence.”

10/16/2020 303455 GALLAGHER, RALPH WILLIAM JAMES 105 E DALLAS ST APT 7 CONROE TX 77301