GREENVILLE — Standing tall in the Darke County Common Pleas Courtroom, the victim of Marcus S. Woodworth had one question. “Why did he choose me? I was nine.”
Woodworth, 45, of Richmond, Ind., was sentenced on five different counts of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material, a second-degree felony, and gross sexual imposition, a third-degree felony, on Friday. The county courtroom filled with not only court staff, attorneys, and detectives, but family members of the victim.
According to Prosecuting attorney Deborah Quigley, the victim was subjected to five years of abuse at the hands of Woodworth starting at age nine. Urged to keep the defendant’s actions a secret, the abuse eroded the victim’s trust with family and friends, creating a reliance on the perpetrator.
In a position of trust, a father figure, Woodworth enacted severe mental and psychological harm on the victim, continued Quigley, photos were taken of the victim as well as links and messages of a sexual nature sent to her phone, with a progression to molestation.
The prosecution went on to state a sentence of fewer than six years would demean the seriousness of the defendant’s conduct.
“This is something that went on for years,” said Quigley, “basically taking away the childhood of the victim.”
Jose Lopez, defense attorney for Woodworth, did not argue against the facts in the case. He cited Woodworth’s actions as “horrible” and “inexcusable” that his client knew it was wrong, made no denial of his actions, and has since had a spiritual rebirth.
“He understands what he did was evil, he does not want to be involved with evil,” continued Lopez with Woodworth fully accepting the fact he would go to prison and that it was an opportunity to be “a better human being.”
The defense attorney proceeded to request a sentence of four years or less, stating it would not demean the seriousness of the offense given the defendant’s otherwise “exemplary” life. The latter referencing a presentence report that revealed nothing beyond traffic violations and divorce. A 1992 graduate of Tri-Village High School, Woodworth served in the United States Navy for four years before an honorable discharge. Substance abuse of alcohol to marijuana was scant with a low risk of recidivism.
“I’m so sorry,” said Woodworth when given an opportunity to speak, turning from the defense table to the victim in the courtroom. “I know that I’ve screwed up, I know that I’ve failed my church and I know that I’ve failed God.”
He went on to say he failed the victim.
The victim in the case stood to give her statement, her voice filling the courtroom. She emphasized how the molestation drove her away from her family and herself. How the abuse transpired during a difficult time and that Woodworth was well aware of those difficulties.
“I still have nightmares, but now that I am here, I know that I am stronger.”
Judge Jonathan P. Hein, presiding over the sentence, entered into the record several letters from both sides of the case, including a written statement from the victim.
“It’s not easy what I’m going to say,” said Judge Hein, in response to the victim’s question as to why Woodworth chose her. He explained that the victimization of people often has no rhyme or reason. Instead, it is about opportunity and convenience and not always logical or premeditated. However, “It does not demean the severity of the conduct.”
“You may never have the answer to why,” continued Judge Hein, who expressed his hope that the victim could move on from the abuse, to push beyond it. “The potential that we all have still exists […] some of the most meaningful times are in the darkest of valleys. Choose not to live in the dark valley.”
The court proceeded to sentencing, with a clarification that the recidivism analysis, regulations, as well as first-time offense would be taken into consideration.
Woodworth was sentenced to four years for counts one, three, and five, with two years for counts two and nine, all concurrent for four years total with five years post-mandatory control, and Tier II sex offender registration.