A Dodge County mother and father have been accused of trading sex with their 14-year-old daughter in exchange for monthly payments on their minivan.
Dodge sheriff’s investigators say the girl’s parents made her do “sexual favors” for the manager of Shorty’s Used Cars in Eastman so they wouldn’t have to make the $281 payment on the 1998 Dodge Caravan they bought two years ago.
The allegations surfaced after a months-long investigation into the girl’s welfare that began last summer.
“It makes me personally sick to my stomach,” Dodge sheriff’s Capt. Tony Winborn said Tuesday. “The only thing I can tell you is there were drugs involved in this family and it was some very sick, perverted stuff going on amongst the entire family. ... Rhyme or reason, I couldn’t tell you.”
The teenager’s parents, James Clarence Davis and Sandra Davis, both 36 and Eastman residents, were jailed Friday on child molestation charges. James Davis also has been charged with aggravated child molestation.
The manager of the car lot, 66-year-old Wayne Bearden of Eastman, was, among other charges, locked up on charges of alleged aggravated child molestation and one count of child molestation.
Bearden, who made an unsuccessful run for state senate in the 1970s, has a criminal past that includes three stints in state prison and a 19-month stretch in federal prison, records show.
In 1978, he was sentenced to two years for voluntary manslaughter in the handgun-shooting death of a friend and political ally during a fight. Bearden served less-than-one-year prison terms in the early 1990s on marijuana related charges.
In 1997, he was sent to federal prison for his role in a vote buying conspiracy in Dodge County in what was the largest election fraud prosecution in U.S. history.
Wendell Bearden, 63, who once owned 20 Shorty’s Quick Stop convenience stores between Valdosta and Macon, said he was trying to help his older brother by giving him a job managing the Fifth Avenue car lot he owns.
“He had had a turbulent life up until 2000 and he was — he is — a recovering alcoholic,” Wendell Bearden said. “He came here and was sober for seven years, fell off the wagon, I fired him and he was straight for a while, came back and I put him back to work. I thought everything was fine, goes to church. I’ve never been so surprised of anything in my life. It was a total shocker to me. I mean, and these are allegations at this point. ... It’s almost too much for me to believe.”
The 14-year-old victim is living in foster care in another county, the sheriff’s department’s Winborn said.
“I don’t know how it transpired up to the point that they were exchanging (sex) for the car payment,” Winborn said.
Other suspects, “multiple players,” are expected to surface in the coming days, the sheriff’s captain said.
“(Wayne) Bearden wasn’t the only person that this couple gave this child to,” Winborn said. “It’s very horrific. It was for drugs and for money from other folks.”
To contact writer Joe Kovac Jr., call 744-4397.