Former deputy pleads guilty to child abuse
A former Caroline County deputy walked out of court as a free man Tuesday after pleading guilty to one count of felony child abuse.
Clyde C. Davenport, 52, a Caroline sheriff’s deputy for nine years and briefly a candidate for sheriff in 1997, was accused of physically abusing and sexually molestating a young boy over a six-year period starting in 1998.
He accepted a plea agreement in Caroline Circuit Court Tuesday that dismissed five counts of forcible sodomy, aggravated sexual battery and malicious bodily injury for his guilty plea.
Judge J. Howe Brown sentenced Davenport to two years in prison with all but six months suspended. He received credit for time served because he already served nine months in jail while awaiting an earlier trial.
Although Brown described the offense as “severe” he said he hadn’t heard any arguments that would make him give a sentence outside the sentencing guidelines, which ranged from one day to six months in prison.
Special prosecutor George Elsasser, an assistant commonwealth’s attorney in Stafford County, and defense attorney Cary Bowen were appointed to handle the case and reached the agreement. There was no agreement on sentencing.
In court, Davenport did not admit guilt at first when Brown asked him was he pleading guilty because he was in fact guilty. He said he was pleading guilty to get it over with. But after a brief discussion with his attorney, he did admit guilt.
Davenport, who had been out of jail on bond, is in poor health and lives with his sister and two young daughters in King William County.
A three-day jury trial had been set to begin May 23 on the eight charges.
Previously, a jury of five men and seven women found Davenport guilty of malicious wounding and child abuse resulting in serious injury in September 2010 during an emotional three-day trial.
The jury recommended that Davenport serve the maximum of 30 years in prison and pay a $100,000 fine.
But that verdict was set aside by Judge Joseph Ellis last May, when he declared a mistrial after Davenport’s orginial defense attorney John LaFratta argued that Comonwealth’s Attorney Tony Spencer prejudiced the jury against his client by making statements during the trial about Davenport being a porn dealer and a racist.
“This is a nightmare I have been living since May 2008,” Davenport told The Free Lance-Star in September. “I have spent nine months in jail for nothing, for something that I did not do.”
He said the allegations against him were made up because he and the victim’s mother have had an ongoing court battle on an unrelated matter.
The charges against Davenport stem from a Virginia State Police investigation after a 2008 complaint from the Department of Social Services.
The victim, who is now 20, his mother and other witnesses said they called police about the abuse, but said they believed, because of Davenport’s relationship with the local Sheriff’s Office, nothing would ever come of it.
Davenport was hired as a deputy in December 1988 by then-Sheriff O.J. Moore and left the force in August 1997, when Homer Johnson was sheriff. He worked as a school resource officer and as a D.A.R.E. officer.
Davenport testified that he resigned in 1997 to run for sheriff that year, but later dropped his campaign.