Man apologizes for ‘stupidity’ in sex abuse case

SUBLETTE COUNTY – Emotions ran high and strong at the sentencing hearing for Donald K. Woodward, 75, who pleaded guilty in February to taking immoral and immodest liberties with a girl younger than 17.

Woodward’s competency and health had been in question after he was charged in July 2020 with felony third-degree sexual abuse of a minor. In 9th District Court on May 27, Woodward and his attorney Geoff Phillips told Judge Marv Tyler via videoconference that Woodward awaits testing for Alzheimer’s and Parkison’s diseases.

Sublette County Deputy Attorney Clayton Melinkovich and Phillips had worked out the plea agreement for Woodward, recommending five years of supervised probation and no contact with minor children. Deputy attorney Stan Cannon sat in for Melinkovich, who was out of town.

The young girl had seen Woodward as a “trusted uncle,” her mother told Judge Tyler over the phone.

But the girl had nightmares after Woodward – “a dirty old man” – showered with her naked and was afraid her family would be killed. “We moved to another house and now she can start healing – she’s a survivor.”

She asked the judge to impose a permanent restraining order against Woodward “as of today.” Woodward appeared very upset as the mother talked about her daughter’s pain and healing. She also said Woodward should not get off easy with five years of supervised probation “just because his age and Alzheimer’s.”

Cannon explained that the five-year term is much longer than the usual three years and requires the judge’s approval, which Judge Tyler accepted. He was assessed just $125 in fees due to his limited financial condition.

Woodward also spoke, apologizing to the girl, her family and his family for his “stupidity.”

“I destroyed the trust and love she had for me,” he said. “I am so sorry. … I pray the little girl will get on with a happy and healthy life.”