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Two local men convicted of sexual abuse

Two Crenshaw County men have been convicted of sexual abuse in cases involving minors.

Brian Davis, 39, was convicted of first degree sodomy, second degree sodomy, and sexual abuse of a child under 12 years old.

Davis was handed sentences of 99 years, 20 years and 20 years, to be served consecutively.

In an unusual turn of events, Davis was sentenced early and without being present.

District Attorney Charlotte Tesmer said that Davis has health problems, and following the convictions, he appeared to have an overdose of medications.

Davis was transferred by helicopter from Crenshaw Community Hospital to Baptist South.

Tesmer said that despite the defense’s contention that it is unknown if Davis intentionally made himself absent from the proceedings, the sentencing continued.

In the other case, Lawrence “Larry” Woodward, 36, was convicted of one count of first degree sexual abuse and one count of second degree sodomy.

First degree sexual abuse is a Class C felony and carries a sentence of not more than 10 years or less than one year and one day.

Second degree sodomy, which is defined as engaging in deviant sexual intercourse with a person less than 16 years old, is a Class B felony and carries a sentence of not more than 20 years or less than two years.

Tesmer said that Woodward was arrested on the charges in Sept. 2010.

His sentencing is set for June 4 at 10:30 a.m.

“I was very pleased with the investigation that the law enforcement agencies did in these cases,” she said. “The Crenshaw County Sheriff’s Office, Safe Harbor and the Department of Human Resources did a really good job of taking care of these kids and interviewing them.”

Tesmer said that it was a team effort in obtaining the convictions, and Kathy Smyth, director of the Safe Harbor Children’s Advocacy Center echoed that sentiment.

“We have a multi-disciplinary approach to these cases, and when there’s an allegation of abuse, from the beginning, DHR, law enforcement, the DA’s office and Safe Harbor are all called in,” she said. “What that does is help us from the beginning try to ascertain the truthfulness of the allegation.”

The agencies work together to provide support services for the family, medical referrals or other needed processes.

Smyth said that even though convictions have been made, there will be additional needs throughout the incarceration and possible parole periods.

Both Tesmer and Smyth commended the victims for coming forward and testifying.

“These cases are some of the hardest to prove, and both kids did a really good job on the testimony,” Tesmer said. “They should be proud of their testimony.  They took the stand, and that’s not an easy thing.”

“For the victims to testify in public, that takes more courage than many of us can understand,” Smyth said. “I’m proud of the jurors that really had to sit through some very uncomfortable testimony.”

“I’m pleased and proud to have been a small part through the Child Advocacy Center, but I also can’t say how proud I am of our prosecutors and the judge.  No one person could do it by themselves, and it sends a message that we won’t tolerate this in our county.”