Lawrence Woods  (68) was sentenced this week to 15 to 25 years in prison after pleading guilty to 16 counts of first-degree criminal conduct. Among the persons he violated were children under the age of 13. He plead guilty in June of this year. Woods is a former sergeant in the police department of Flint, Michigan. 
Flint police began an investigation in 2014 after receiving a report from a victim who described events that occurred than 20 years ago. Later, other victims testified that the retired Flint police sergeant had sexually assaulted them while on duty. Those incidents occurred between 1996 and 1999. Woods retired in 2002.
Genesee Circuit Judge Richard Yuille was told by one of the victims Woods befriended her mother, offered her narcotics, and would invite children to dinner, shopping, and swimming. 
"I feel like in the beginning, he sweetened us up," said the woman, who told Judge Yuille that  Woods forced her to perform sexual acts and beat her if he believed another man touched her. Woods forced the victim to provide sexual favors at his office at the police department and in his service vehicle. "Not only did I put my trust in him, but my mother ... as well, and they both failed me," said the mother of three children.
In her testimony, the victim said she could not understand why no one at the police department ever questioned why she was present at police headquarters at night. "I didn't know if it was the fear they had from him, because I had it as well," said the woman. After seeing how Woods treated a fellow officer, the victim testified "That was the day I knew nobody could protect me from him."
The court heard testimony that Woods arranged sensors and also put powder on the floor of his dwelling so as to known when came into his apartment or if the victim left at any time. "He has single-handedly destroyed what was left in me. I have dreams about him, the scent of his cologne, I still smell it," said the victim. "If I'm out in public and I smell it or if I see a car that he drove that I was forced to do stuff in, it sends me into a rage. A rage that I can't understand."
Woods claimed that he never beat anyone or forced anyone to perform illicit sex acts while serving in the Flint police force. "I'm being sent to prison on unsubstantiated lies and to be murdered by the same people I defended my life to protect society against," he said. "I have definitive proof of my innocence." Woods attempted to withdraw his guilty plea prior to the sentencing date, but the request was denied.
Woods’ agreement with the court includes lifetime registry on the sex offender list, required testing for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, and lifetime electronic monitoring upon release from prison.



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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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