'Some of this ... will be repulsive,' lawyer tells jurors at ex-GBI agent's trial
Testimony in the child molestation trial of former GBI agent Charles S. Woodall began Tuesday with a prosecutor describing the ex-lawman as “a wolf in sheep’s clothing,” someone who befriended boys in a Macon church youth group and groomed them for sex acts.
Two of the boys, now in their early 20s, took the stand in Bibb County Superior Court on Tuesday morning and told how over parts of the past decade Woodall had sexually abused them after getting to know them and their families at Northway Church on Zebulon Road.
Woodall, 36, a former youth leader at the church, was indicted last summer on charges that he molested three boys and also enticed them along with another boy for indecent purposes. He faces six counts of child molestation and is also accused of violating his oath of office. He had been a GBI agent since 2011. Though some of the alleged crimes are said to have happened in the years before that, prosecutors contend that Woodall’s improper contact, on at least one occasion, happened after he became an agent.
Woodall resigned from the GBI, where he was most recently in the bureau’s Milledgeville office, after his arrest on molestation charges in November 2015.
During opening statements, prosecutor Dorothy Hull referred to Woodall as someone the “young, impressionable” boys had looked up to. She said Woodall was “a man seemingly devoted to spending time with young boys.” But Hull said his encounters with the children devolved into something “more twisted” as Woodall began showing them internet pornography, touching them sexually and using a sex toy on them.
“He was a wolf in sheep’s clothing,” Hull told jurors.
The prosecutor said Woodall earned the trust of his victims’ parents and was considered a role model.
Defense attorney Charles Cox, in his opening statement, noted that there was no known physical or electronic evidence linking Woodall to the crimes. Cox also said investigators never found proof of a sex toy when they searched Woodall’s house.
“You’re going to have to listen,” Cox told jurors, “to some explosive ... and disturbing allegations.”
According to prosecutors, Woodall’s accusers have given similarly detailed accounts of their encounters with Woodall. The case against him will likely hinge on the accusers’ testimony. One alleged victim, who is 21, took the stand in court on Tuesday and said that on one occasion when he was in his mid-teens Woodall performed oral sex on him.
Another of the alleged victims, now 23, testified that he was in his early teens when Woodall began abusing him. The young man said he had hoped “to pretend like it never happened” but decided to come forward in 2015 after another alleged victim accused Woodall of sex crimes.
The young man said Woodall took him camping, hiking, to movies and concerts and that his parents came to consider Woodall “another son.”
The young man went on to describe how Woodall would, in private while at Woodall’s residence, show him internet porn and encourage him to pleasure himself in front of Woodall.
During the morning’s testimony, Woodall, who had on a dark suit, sat quietly with his arms on the defense table.
On the stand, his 23-year-old accuser told how Woodall had become part of his family, and how Woodall’s ties to his parents and other relatives were among the reasons the young man never told on Woodall.
“I cared about him and I didn’t want to sever the relationship,” the young man said.
When a prosecutor asked if he hated Woodall, the young man said no and added, “Still don’t.”
Questioned later by Cox, the defense lawyer, the young man said he cared about Woodall.
“I still pray for him,” he said, “but obviously this has to come out.”