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South Park Monster

Man cries if he was blessed with a heart / But I lost mine, in the backstreets of South Park / Once again it's Mister SPM / And the shit ain't gonna stop until I'm dead or in the pen. -- Carlos Coy, a.k.a. South Park Mexican, "The Latin Throne"

By late last September, Carlos Coy was the biggest thing to happen on the local rap scene since the death of DJ Screw. He was a uniquely Houston character, a Tejano raised in the black ghetto of South Park, a hustling Hispanic whose vivid raps about dead-end street life, smuggling weed from the Valley, and an uplifted raza blended gritty black funk with borderlands Spanglish slang.

Coy was a hero to shaven-headed brown kids in baggy print shirts and jeans, those sons of yard men, road builders, roofers and dishwashers, the youths caught between two cultures but not particularly valued by either. Coy became a conduit for their rage and despair, but also for their aspirations and dreams.

He had taken his family with him on the heady ascent to stardom. His brother had been a chemical plant worker, his sister a hairdresser. They and his father found glamorous new jobs helping run Coy's Dope House Records label. The bunkerlike Sixth Ward headquarters, surrounded by a high iron fence and bearing his likeness in the form of huge murals, is the building that once housed his family's modest grocery brokerage.

Coy's was a heartwarming story, one of a troubled kid from a loving but broken home who had quit selling crack and started selling a fresh form of dope: music. The new millionaire had an eighth-grade education. This ghetto Horatio Alger, whose clever rhymes, zealous work ethic and business sense vaulted him from hawking homemade tapes at five bucks a pop out of his backpack in the bathroom at low-rider shows to a national distribution deal with Universal Records.

He managed a multiethnic stable of rappers and a support staff, some of them virtually unemployable street kids. His record company had seven vans and a limousine. He bought cell phones by the crate. Coy had the adulation of hundreds of thousands of kids from Houston to Los Angeles, Brownsville to San Francisco, and he was pursued by thousands of women.

Like a God-fearing televangelist, this rapper regaled audiences and the media with the moving account of his transformation away from the drugs and violence that had ripped apart too many friends. Coy swears he was in his home, desperate for an escape from worsening troubles. He says he knelt and prayed to the Lord for a way out. When he got up, the television set showed an advertisement for budding young rap artists to send audition tapes to a talent agency. He took it as the ultimate omen that rap was his calling.

That experience was years ago. But on a night last September, the television again flickered its images inside the now fashionable Coy home. A nine-year-old girl, staying over with his own young daughter, looked up from the TV and noticed a hulking form fill the void in the darkened bedroom doorway.

She pretended to be asleep as the man silently entered the room, although she soon felt a hand groping under her panties. Carlos Coy was on his knees once again. There was no divine inspiration summoned forth this time -- only the worst inner demons of a sexual predator.

SCHOOL, what a fool I was / Skippin' education for the fun to run from the fuzz / '85, '86, crack cocaine was the crucifix. -- South Park Mexican, "Reminisce"

Carlos Coy raps about the rough urban haunts of his youth, although the Coy family actually began in the bedrock farming and ranching community of Falfurrias in the Rio Grande Valley. His mother dropped out of high school to marry father Arturo Coy, an ex-marine.

After several generations in that hamlet between Corpus Christi and Laredo, the clan relocated in the late 1960s to Houston, where Carlos was born. Three years later, the Coy marriage unraveled.

Carlos's sister, Sylvia Coy, now the general manager of Coy's local indie rap label Dope House Records, says Carlos took the divorce much harder than the older siblings, herself and Arthur Jr.

Sylvia says she was too busy to fall apart over the breakup. "I'm kind of Carlos's mother-sister," she says. "Because we come from a broken house, my mom always worked, but we were never on welfare…We lost all of our cars -- my mom went and bought an old car -- basically she always worked to save the house, and I took care of Carlos."

Or at least she tried to control the hyperactive baby brother. "Carlos was this wild little kid, you know? I was supposed to be taking care of him," Sylvia admits, "but I was a teenager myself. And he was always out there in trouble."

He wasn't a kid content to watch TV all day. "He always had to be out playing baseball, football. He was a great dancer. He could climb one of these walls and turn a flip." The now beefy Carlos was a skinny, agile boy, she says. "To look at him now, you wouldn't know that, but if you could have seen him then."

He bounced around different elementary schools as a youngster. His family was mystified when he developed dysphagia, difficulty swallowing. There was no physical reason for the condition, but Sylvia believes it stemmed from his growing up in a fatherless home. "It was something in his mind where it became hard for him to swallow," Sylvia says.

With characteristic immodesty, Carlos says he was the best skateboarder in the neighborhood, a regular at a hangout called The Pipes. That braggadocio also comes over his first introductions to music. There was a failed experiment on the piano, a foray made at his mother's request, but the violin was different. He says he was something of a prodigy, gaining admittance to the music magnet program at Welch Middle School. Within a year he had passed up several kids ("Chinese kids and everything," Coy recently told a courtroom) who had been practicing since kindergarten. His music teachers refused to believe that he had been playing for only a year.

His early frames of reference suddenly shifted after the family moved out of the predominantly Hispanic neighborhood on the southeast side. Carlos discarded the violin bow and began break dancing. His new hood was the African-American stronghold of South Park. Coy recalls that he was the only Hispanic in his new Woodson Middle School. "I thought break dancing was gonna be my future," he laughs. "When that went out of style, I was left without a job."

Despite ethnic differences, he fit in well with the young social rebels. By age 13, he had started drinking and smoking marijuana, two vices he indulged right to the end. There were his own tales of torching a neighbor's house and other crimes. He traces his problems in school to "the three Gs": "gangs, grudges and girls."

"I'm not a follower, so I always hated gangs," he says, explaining that he was often beaten for refusing to join gangs. Since a lot of girls liked him, a lot of guys disliked him, and there were more beatings. Coy had his own brand of violence. By 1987, he had been thrown out of Milby High School for assaulting a female student and was attending an alternative school.

He was 17 and still a freshman when he decided to drop out for good, he told the Houston Press's Craig D. Lindsey in a 1999 interview. "One more year in high school," he said, "and I would've went to jail for fucking all those little young bitches."

Coy insists he tried to find an honest career after calling it quits with school. Within a year, he got his GED and enrolled at San Jacinto Junior College. He wanted a business associate's degree, but flunked all five of his classes. He conceded that he never did homework, and a burgeoning interest in golf cut into his attendance.

Like his brother before him, Coy went to work at a chemical plant, making the same $6 an hour as his hustling co-workers, Mexican immigrants. "Where they come from," he says, "they make about $6 a week. This was good money to them, and they worked harder than me. Also, I have sensitive skin and so I got a lot of rashes."

Unemployed again, Coy fell for a spiel to get rich quick selling perfume to strangers at malls and door-to-door. Although he says he was good at it and sold a lot of perfume, he wasn't making the money -- his bosses were.

Coy would testify later that he started to slip, as he put it, "into the grasp of the ghetto." Rather than perfume, he decided to peddle something else that comes in a vial, a substance that he boasted "sold itself."

He became a crack cocaine dealer. Coy would later brag to every music interviewer that he sold only the best uncut coke. Asked years later by a prosecutor to explain what he meant by uncut, Coy said with a straight face: "The most pure. I didn't believe in putting in any harmful additives."

Sylvia Coy remembers when the crack wave washed over the shores of her neighborhood, at the same time her brother was entering adolescence. "Hardworking people would quit their jobs and turn into skeletons. They would sell a paid-off house for $3,000."

By his reckoning, Coy dealt in cocaine less than a year -- an apparently small-time pusher -- before he wanted out. In what sound like embellished accounts, he tells of being robbed by known killers who didn't pull the trigger when they had him on the ground awaiting the execution-style hit. Assorted friends either died or wound up in prison.

"[I was] tired of selling crack to your homeboy's mom," he said in the 1999 Press interview. "[I was] tired of looking at dope fiends being pregnant, trying to buy dope. [I was] tired of seeing my homeboys getting shot and killed, set up for the murder, you know, getting jacked for their cocaine…"

Coy said he'd been robbed, so he sold the cars he'd bought with drug money and paid up the few grand he owed his supplier. He moved into a trailer park owned by his mother and hunkered down. He tells of living off small loans from his brother and pork and beans eaten straight from the can.

Then comes the classic Coy story of his Saul of Tarsus moment. He testified that he was halfway through dialing his connection for $100 worth of crack rocks when the phone fell out of his fingers and he collapsed to his knees in prayer.

"I said, 'Jesus, I don't wanna slang dope no more. I don't wanna work for the fuckin' white man for $6 an hour and get treated like a fuckin' worthless wetback. I am a worthless wetback, I just don't wanna be treated like one.' I didn't wanna work for no chump change, you know. I've always known that I had something great in my mind. I could've been the best fuckin' supervisor at Kmart."

He asked God for a sign. Collecting himself, he picked up the remote and zapped it at the TV. There, on the ad by the music talent agency, he saw his version of the biblical burning bush: three huge letters.


I ain't start from the bottom, I dug myself out a hole / Grabbed a pen, and taught myself how to flow / Life hit me like a double shot of whiskey / In every song I give a piece of my history -- "Who's Over There"

Gangsta rap flourished as the soundtrack to the crack boom so familiar to Coy. But the genre, which first gained popularity in the late 1980s, had been considered largely the domain of L.A.-based artists.

Houston had nudged its way onto the hip-hop map through the Geto Boys, who attracted attention simply by being more deranged and depraved than everyone else. The rapper Scarface, a former Woodson Middle School classmate of Coy's, left the Geto Boys in 1991 and became the godfather of a new genre, so-called Dirty South rap. It's slower, often accompanied by a discernible gospel tinge.

Coy himself had early tastes in music that no rapper in his right mind would claim as influential. His favorite song was the Charlie Daniels Band's "The Devil Went Down to Georgia." He also admitted an appreciation for Barry Manilow. Now his tastes turned toward Marvin Gaye, and a little later, Run-DMC.

Befitting his conversion in front of the TV, Coy says he initially become a Christian rapper. However, his gospel rap lapsed within months, after he went head-to-head at a party with a secular rapper.

"I did my rap and people were laughing at me," he testified later. "Then this guy, who I knew hadn't done the kind of things I'd done in the streets or been through half of what I had, rapped that he was gonna kill my mama and put her body in the trunk of his car. Everybody at the party cheered him."

Coy had learned the first lesson of gangsta rap: shits and fucks attract fans, milk and honey don't. Rappers say the thug lyrics glorifying drugs, sex and violence are needed so the core ghetto audience (and their suburban white doppelgängers, who live vicariously through gangsta rap) will stay tuned for their real message. They say they have to prove that they know of what they speak, otherwise they just come across as yet another hectoring milquetoast that hard-core gangbangers learn to tune out at about 14 years of age.

Credibility -- street cred -- is all-important. Vanilla Ice made it big boasting about his roots in the Miami slums. When it was revealed that he actually hailed from the white-bread Dallas suburb of Richardson, his rapping days were over.

Coy, apparently adopting almost messianic tendencies, said he didn't target kids with good homes or religious values, because "they already have it going on.

"I rap for all the crazy muthafuckas, for all the muthafuckas that need help. For all the muthafuckas that are lost," he said. "I let them know that I've been lost and needed help just like them, and I put that in my lyrics. That's why everybody who follows me are the sickest, craziest, most ill people in this world…'cause that's who I want to help and change."

Armed with this new philosophy, Coy wrote six poems. To set them to beats, which cost money, he turned to his last remnants from the dope dealing: a garage full of lawn mowers, Weed Eaters and various other appliances that he had taken earlier in trade from desperate crack fiends. He sold them, along with his junker car, for $900, in order to transform his street poetry into rap.

A Christian tape duplicator believed Coy's lie that he had more Jesus rap, and the technician never listened to the mayhem that was spinning on his reels. Coy ordered a batch of 100 tapes, paid $130 and was in business.

The genius of this street hustler came into play not in poetry, but rather in pure sales pitches. And what he sells best is himself.

Carlos Coy hit the low-rider car shows, and when he couldn't afford a booth, he haunted the men's rooms. Rare was the visitor to the toilet who didn't came away $5 poorer and one South Park Mexican tape richer. Coy trolled for customers at car washes and convenience stores in poor neighborhoods, where he waited for customers to come out with their 40s, malt liquor bottles, hoping that they had enough pocket change left to spring for his tape.

He became a regular at flea markets from San Antonio to Albuquerque. He persuaded promoters to let him take the stage between band sets, and sales escalated. He was everywhere. Coy would be seen at a car show in Abilene one day, and a flea market in Brownsville the next. Then he would turn up pestering passersby in Del Rio.

Even grandmothers got the pitch from this smooth-talking stranger. He would ask if their grandkids were rap fans, and keep talking until he pocketed money. Like a politician pursuing grassroots support, Coy viewed it as planting seeds that would grow into future fans.

He sold out of his Hillwood tape, ordered more and continued selling for some two and a half years. In 1995, he launched Dope House Records with brother Arthur. His second offering, Hustle Town, netted him a deal with Houston independent distributor Southwest Wholesale.

Hustle Town roared out of the gate, selling 2,500 copies in less than two weeks. His father saw that the family could make more money peddling Carlos's new dope, his rap, than they ever could brokering groceries. The elder Coy soon gave Carlos free rein over his warehouse, which was renamed the Dope House. Relatives grabbed their executive titles to the new company. Carlos himself assumed the humble mantle of, as his Internet bio puts it, "the Don of Dope House Records and musical engineer with a Ph.D. in rapology."

The slogan at the Center Street record label: Dope Sells Itself. Carlos had always said it did. He was right.

[B]ought my own limousine / 20 inch Macleans / 5 screens / with 2 margarita machines

Matt Sonzala, a local freelance writer who has covered Southern rap in magazines such as Murder Dog and XXL, can predict the words of every rapper he's interviewed. They all brag that "What sets me apart is I have my own style."

"When I first heard of South Park Mexican, I was like, 'Man, who the hell is this dude?' " Sonzala says. "But then I found out that he really is different. He's one of the very few rappers like that. Say what you want about him, but he has his own style."

Most impressive to Sonzala is the wit reflected in Coy's work and the rapper himself. "He's funny. He's unique in that way. And he's a hustler," the writer says. "He's one of those guys who take that whole independent revolution of the mid-'90s here in Houston, and took that music into Louisiana, and more heavily Hispanic markets in places like Colorado and New Mexico. He took his stuff to that level totally on his own."

As his notoriety spread, the colorful Coy carefully locked up the regional rap market. He swept the Houston Press music awards and became a solid headliner in distant venues. His Dope House label lured in several notable musicians, and Coy's own creations kept climbing up the charts.

When the national music press turned his way, the critics outside the Southwest were unimpressed. The New York Press's Ned Vizzini called Coy's Time Is Money "bad, cheap rap" and added, "there's no excuse for Time Is Money to sound like a setting on my cellphone ringer." Allmusic.com's Jon Azpiri similarly dismissed the CD: "The Texan was hoping to break out of the Lone Star State…but the 16-track effort is unlikely to catch on." He concluded that "South Park Mexican fails to bring anything new to the table that is worthy of national attention."

Like every other Southern independent who takes his stuff to a major, it didn't really make a difference to Coy -- any publicity helped.

As his stardom grew, he edged toward becoming another cultural icon for expanding Hispanic awareness, and started to see his role in quasi-messianic terms. Coy no longer considered himself merely a rapper, but a "street poet" or "street philosopher." In most of his later interviews, he spoke like a Mexican-American liberationist. Blacks had their Malcolm X, and Coy seemed to want to become the Hispanics' Malcolm Equis. He referred to Mexican-Americans as "my people" and as an all-but-enslaved class sorely in need of self-esteem.

Coy believed he was the one to bring them that respectability as his own commercial successes mounted. He bragged about going from $400 a month in album sales to $40,000 monthly. Dope House hit full stride in 2000. Recording giant Universal Music Group signed him to a lucrative deal that brought an advance of more than $500,000.

Texas Monthly magazine weighed in by selecting Coy as one of the "Voices of a New Generation," a breakout star on the rise. Accomplishments only fed on more far-out dreams. Next up, he pledged, would be movie productions that could rival Hollywood.

The year closed out with his headiest coup: a Newsweek article about this dynamic Hispanic leading the previously overlooked youth of the burgeoning Mexican-American culture. "A lot of Mexican American kids have low self-esteem, so I let them know that they can do more than just work like an animal for peanuts," he said in the story. "…Nobody screams, claps, or cheers for that."

But his fans did cheer when he delivered his homilies. Before each show, Coy would give a speech about the virtues of staying in school and away from crack, keeping out of gangs and getting a job. He'd tell his listeners about the glories of families and responsible parenthood.

Then came the music, still heavily laced with violence and drugs and sex and screwing the establishment. Rappers see it only as coating their sermons in street grime to establish that crucial cred with kids who would otherwise tune it out.

However, the contradictions would become obvious within a year. Coy's own rep was racing toward a collision with harsh reality.

On a hot July day two years ago, the deputy constable from Precinct 1 pulled up yet again to the fortresslike Dope House Records headquarters on Center Street. The officer carried court papers that were part of a past returning to haunt the rising music star.

In April of that year, Jill Odom filed a lawsuit seeking to have Coy formally declared the father of her son, Jordan Dominique Odom, and to have him begin paying child support.

While such actions are routine, the basic math involved in this one underscored the severity of the allegations against the then-29-year-old Coy. Odom was 20 years old, and her child's sixth birthday was less than a month away, meaning she'd given birth at age 14.

Odom's later testimony would be even more damning: She'd started dating Coy when she was only 13. It was her first sexual relationship, she testified, and the two hadn't even bothered to discuss birth control.

The Pasadena woman said that when she became pregnant, Coy offered to marry her. That was quickly nixed by her parents, who refused to have anything to do with him. While she praised Coy for his informal support of herself and the child -- "If I needed something, he would get it" -- her lawsuit hardly reflected that Coy had come up with assistance on a steady basis.

Even Coy's response seemed somewhat casual; in fact his lack thereof almost led to a default judgment in the case. After DNA testing to confirm paternity, the settlement called for Coy to pay $28,000 in back child support and $2,000 more for Odom's prenatal and birth expenses. He was to contribute $1,500 to a college fund for the boy, and begin paying $900 monthly in regular child support. Odom received primary custody.

Terms of the payments certainly didn't show that Coy, despite his public proclamations of immense wealth from Dope House, had reached the ranks of rappers who could simply cut a check and walk away from their past mistakes. At his request, he gained approval to pay the retroactive support and $11,500 in attorney's fees in installments spread over four years.

At this point, Coy's penchant for an underage girl was merely an obscure civil matter, not the stuff of criminal charges for what amounted to statutory rape. Odom said the rapper may not have known her specific age. That argument was hard to accept, however. He did know she was only a middle school student, because he used to pick her up after her seventh-grade classes. Still, it could have been explained away as a onetime error in judgment during a troubled period in his life. After all, Coy had an adult partner, Gina Acosta. They'd met in 1989, and she was now the mother of Carlos Jr., who suffered from a hyperthyroid condition, and his beloved daughter, Carley.

No, his inner circle of supporters insisted, Carlos Coy couldn't be a child molester. One of them who shared that certainty was a longtime friend and homey, who had a nine-year-old daughter of his own, the playmate of six-year-old Carley Coy.

Carley and her friend and their mothers had made the most out of the long Labor Day weekend last year. The women, close companions for several years, treated the youngsters to shopping and then dinner at Joe's Crab Shack on the Gulf Freeway.

Carley didn't want the fun to end. As her friend's mother drove them home, Coy's daughter asked if the playmate could spend the night. Her mother reluctantly agreed, and soon the kids were romping around in the upstairs kids' room of the Coy home.

They played "cops," with one pretending to drive a pint-sized police car while the other was a ticket-writing traffic officer. The girls turned to entertainment with a Barbie CD-ROM on Carley's computer.

When they retired to the mother's bedroom and channel-surfed, Coy himself arrived, clad in boxer shorts and a T-shirt. He had them switch the TV to a movie he enjoyed, Texas Chainsaw Massacre. They all lounged on the bed in the darkened room watching the splatter-fest, the nine-year-old said, and then Coy started to caress her buttocks as she lay on her stomach.

The girl later testified that she became momentarily scared. The girls were soon dancing at Coy's urging to Destiny's Child's Survivor. Their other girlfriend on hand was picked up by her mother, then Carley and her companion changed into panties and T-shirts and popped a Scooby-Doo tape into the VCR. Carley was soon asleep; her friend, who has a history of insomnia, lay awake. She noticed Coy in the doorway. He walked over to the bed, knelt, reached over his sleeping daughter and slipped his hand under her friend's panties.

The girl lay still. She pretended to be asleep and hoped that Coy would go away. He hustled around to the other side of the bed, knelt again, shoved her panties to the side with his left hand and started to lick her vagina. Throughout the ordeal, Coy's right hand was out of her view. Again, the girl lay still, hoping he would stop. He didn't, not for a full five minutes.

After Coy left, the girl lay in bed and then went to the bathroom; she later testified that there was "slobber" all over her. She found Carley's mom and told her that her stomach hurt and she wanted to go home. An unknowing Gina arranged a ride for her -- with Carlos himself.

On that drive back, he told her not to tell anybody about what had happened, she said. Coy said she was a great dancer, that he was going to open a dance studio and make her a big star, that he would buy her and her family anything they wanted.

Minutes later, Coy was telling that same story to the girl's grandparents. They had invited him in for menudo and heard the rapper praise the girl's dancing abilities. Later, memories of the scene caused her grandmother to weep on the witness stand. She had always thought her child was a great dancer, too.

The girl's version of the night seemed incomprehensible. Here was a rap star with legions of groupies -- well-developed women flashing breasts for him in postconcert euphoria. How could he possibly prefer preadolescent kids?

Judy Johnson, clinical director for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice's Sex Offender Treatment Program in Huntsville, hasn't made a case study out of Coy. But she says that the onset of pedophilia doesn't occur suddenly in middle age, it begins developing much earlier.

"They don't say, 'Ooh, she's really sexy, she's really coming on to me, I think I'll just explore this possibility,'" Johnson explains. "The preference was already there. Otherwise, it would have been sort of repulsive."

Most people, if they strayed into the notion of sexual attraction to a nine-year-old, would simply tell themselves, "I don't even want to think about that, that's just too weird," she says.

"As we grow up, most of us don't really fight the urges to molest little children," Johnson explains. "Our age preference for the mates we select usually matures with us."

Those who don't gain that maturity may have been affected by a variety of factors: early sex play and exploration, and relationships -- and rejection -- by peers. Another aspect is self-esteem. "What's driving a lot of these pedophiles is that need to feel powerful and overpowering, so they select sex partners that they can overpower and have complete control over."

Johnson is disturbed that Coy encouraged the girls to watch Texas Chainsaw Massacre with him. She believes it hints to still darker impulses that could eventually escalate into violence over time.

Treatment for pedophiles is uncertain at best. The goal is to get them to avoid acting on their urges, "but as far as changing the urge, it's very unlikely that it will change over time," she says. "That's why they are so dangerous."

In general, Coy's past reflects some similarities with profiles of pedophiles, she believes. Most grow up without a strong male figure in their lives; they can "groom" associates to ignore the obvious signs of their perversion; and serial pedophiles often establish ways -- even dance studios for children -- to attract more potential victims, Johnson says.

"That's very common for pedophiles to create an avenue where they can have one victim right after another," she says. "It's unfortunate, but a lot of predators create their 'candy stores.' " Predators will select youngsters not likely to tell on them, or those unlikely to be believed or those prone to accepting bribes until they feel responsible for what happened. A pedophile can even convince girls "that they had seduced him somehow."

There were no feelings of seduction swirling around inside the nine-year-old friend of the Coy family. Accompanied by her mother, she told her story to Houston police investigators. On September 25, a stunned Carlos Coy was behind bars, charged with aggravated sexual assault of the girl and also of Odom, the mother of the child he'd fathered in a relationship that began when she was 13.

Coy quickly posted bail of $30,000 and began a counteroffensive to the allegations that ripped through the music scene as well as his personal life. Some concert dates were canceled. Children's Protective Services investigators temporarily banned him from contact with his own daughter. Coy told reporters he had even sworn off alcohol and marijuana.

He and his family said Coy was being smeared, that the girl's mother had put her up to saying she was molested because the mother had been scorned by Coy after an affair with him, an accusation the woman hotly denied.

Still, there was no physical evidence, no DNA samples or anything else to independently link him to sexual contact with the child. This was stacking up as a high-stakes swearing match between a nine-year-old girl and a 31-year-old rap star.

Content to call it a vendetta by the accusing parent, Coy tried to get back to normal business at Dope House, an abnormal proposition at best.

Late on February 3, Coy left the company offices, climbed into a van with homies and headed north to New Caney. There, they picked up two females who he said had been pestering them with phone calls saying they were bisexuals who wanted to meet the rap star.

They wound up at a cheap motel on the North Freeway. Coy insisted that he gave the group $100 for them to eat at a nearby Mexican cafe while he napped in the motel room. He swore that he woke up and found one of the females in his bed, although nothing had happened for the hour they were alone.

Her story differed. She told of them getting undressed and having sex while Coy viewed a soft-core Cinemax film. Then she locked herself in the bathroom while her female companion and one of Coy's friends took their turn at sex. The evening ended, she said, with Coy and company unchivalrously dropping them off a few miles from home. Her sister had to come pick them up from a far-northside strip mall in the gray predawn.

Aside from the disputed stories, there was one big problem facing Coy, who was awaiting trial on the earlier charges of sexually assaulting juveniles: These latest groupies were only 14 years old.

Prosecutors added more charges against the rapper, who had his bond revoked. His freedom was gone, and so was much of his credibility.

Got scooped and fixin' to face the man / In the black gown with the wooden hammer -- "Hillwood."

Pretrial hearings had already previewed the approaching spectacle. In February, a small protest erupted as a then-free Coy departed the courthouse.

"Child molester! CHILD MOLESTER!" a small group of women yelled as they followed the defendant down the sidewalk. Coy dismissed them with a religious reference, saying if God wanted him to endure such protests, then he'd do it.

State District Judge Mark Kent Ellis was in less of a mood to endure the anticipated high jinks of a gangsta-rapper trial unfolding last month on the charge involving the family friend, now ten years old.

The judge banned news cameras from the courtroom -- even the entire courthouse. Ellis soon snared his first offender, a Channel 13 cameraman shooting through a glass door the day of the sensitive testimony of the girl. With field-tripping Strake Jesuit College Prep juniors looking on, the judge ordered him into custody, then released him but threatened to bar the station from the trial.

Relatives and friends of the rival sides occasionally sparred verbally outside the courthouse and hallways, sometimes taking on the appearance of an alfresco Jerry Springer show. Almost as fierce were the legal clashes between veteran defense attorney Chip Lewis and prosecutor Denise Oncken.

Coy was jolted by just how far he was from his home turf of South Park and Dope House. Prospective jurors responded to detailed questionnaires that showed few of them were familiar with rap music, music magazines in general or even sexually oriented publications.

These were no homies to Coy. The first potential juror, an oil engineer, set the tone with his answers about the three people he most admired: George Bush, Bill Gates and Jim "Mattress Mac" McIngvale. His least-admired trio? Osama bin Laden, Hillary Clinton and husband Bill.

The final jury focused in on the young accusing witness, clutching a stuffed basset hound doll, who told of wondering if the episode could somehow have been a dream. Then came an angry mother. But the most damning evidence for the defense came from someone who wasn't even a witness: Coy himself.

Prosecutor Lisa Andrews drew from the rapper's own gangsta persona, a defendant who composed songs that glorified the grimmest of crimes to the good citizens filling the jury box.

After a night sequestered in a hotel, jurors convicted Coy of aggravated sexual assault and turned to assessing punishment, which could range from probation to life in prison.

In arguing for mercy from the jury, all his supporters could do was deny that he was the type of person who would sexually assault girls. His sister outlined her brother's strong work ethic, his love of animals and his roots in a family that loved him deeply.

"So he had every advantage in life, and he still molested a nine-year-old girl," Andrews fired back.

Waiting in line to testify were other girls or young women who had had underage sexual encounters with Coy. In likely desperation, the rapper finally took the stand. And he eventually showed why that testimony came against the advice of his own attorney, Lewis.

It began as an asset, with jurors finally getting to hear Coy and his humanizing account of his raw early years. The stocky defendant, who could seem almost insolent or even menacing at times, broke down and wept as he recalled the violin lessons and the antics of his childhood.

But the swaggering South Park Mexican -- the streetwise hustler who felt he could rap his way into and out of situations -- soon made an appearance under fierce rapid-fire cross-examination from Andrews.

What about his earlier comment in the Houston Press, about "fucking all the little young bitches in high school?" Andrews demanded, drawing an audible gasp from one female juror.

Coy hemmed and hawed. "I may have said that," he allowed.

The defendant told the jury that, while out on bail, he tried so hard to avoid any hint of impropriety that, if a teenage girl got in line near him in a grocery store, he'd go to the back of the line. That made Andrews wonder aloud why, if that was the case, he would pile in with his buddies and drive all the way to New Caney to pick up a couple of girls.

In pleading for probation, Coy came up with more grandiose boasts. "Y'all all credit [Mayor] Lee Brown with calming down the gang problem," he said. "I think y'all should thank South Park Mexican."

After sharp questioning about crack dealing and other crimes, he was confronted with the obvious: How could eight young females be wrong in their belief that he molested them or worse?

The seventh-grader from Pasadena? Coy said she was holding a wine cooler when he met her and looked like a "party type." He alluded to another girl as if she was a slut who probably had been in cheap motels before. One young victim and her mother? "The Lady and the Tramp," Coy called them.

No, these weren't the vulnerable girls who Coy had stripped of their innocence. They were liars, all liars. And worse.

The rapper had slipped back into his beat, calling forth sarcastic and occasionally savage scorn for his accusers. Some of his supporters stifled their own glee but snickered at this icon of defiance. But the rap wasn't playing well in this venue, not with the audience that counted most.

After seven hours of deliberation, jurors issued the ultimate critique of his performance. Their verdict: 45 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Coy wasn't quite finished with his courtroom duties yet. Judge Ellis, the man with the wooden hammer, summoned him to the bench. In 17 years of criminal justice work, the judge said, Coy was no exception to what he'd learned about sex offenders: that they all were liars.

"You've lied to this court, you've lied to your family, you've lied to your fans with your so-called positive raps when your own life wasn't right," Ellis told him. "The fact is that there is only one victim in this case, and it is a nine-year-old girl," Ellis said. "Now that is reality, and you need to deal with it.

"It's time for you to face the music," Ellis concluded.

The victim's father, Coy's former longtime friend, also ended his victim impact statement with another slap at the rapper. "Coy, you're just gonna be another six-digit number in prison, and you're gonna be singing another tune: 'Don't Mess with Texas.' "

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Coy is expected to appeal the verdict. His supporters say his female accusers are just trying to cash in on his wealth and predict they will file civil damage lawsuits. In the meantime, he plans to add to the 300 pages of memoirs he's written while in jail. "The guy's constantly going. He's either always writing songs or writing a book, which I think was good therapy for him, something to keep him busy," his sister says.

Prison may be especially harsh for the rapper, because inmates are known to retaliate against child molesters. Hispanic convicts tend to protect themselves more than other ethnic groups, "but even among the Hispanics, there's very low tolerance for sex offenders, especially when they've got child victims," says TDCJ's Johnson.

She believes he's likely to be put in protective custody and slowly eased into the main prison population. "As long as he just keeps his mouth shut," Johnson says, "there probably won't be anybody that will really pay attention to him."

And that silence may be the ultimate punishment for the man who gained attention with his mouth in a wild ride to fame.

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