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Archive for Child Abuse

Haywood Co. Man Pleads Guilty

James Daniel Sawyer

James Daniel Sawyer

A Canton man faces nearly 30 years behind bars after pleading guilty to sexual assaults that left a 3-year-old boy with a sexually transmitted disease. James Daniel Sawyer, 33, was arrested in October of last year after Sgt. Shawn Gaddis with the Canton Police Department received a report from the Haywood County Department of Social Services involving the little boy. The boy and his then 7-year-old sister were examined and interviewed at Mission Hospital. Though the girl did not have any physical illness, she did speak of Sawyer’s sexual behavior. Authorities believe the crimes occurred on and off between January 2012 and September 2013, based on statements by the mother, children and Sawyer himself. Sawyer has never even had so much as a traffic ticket, comes from a well-respected family, is a lifelong local resident and has a stable employment history.  Sawyer’s father and pastor were present in the courtroom as well. His father teared up as he stood to speak. Judge William Coward did not recognize any mitigating factors and sentenced him to 240 months to 348 months in prison and fined him $10,000 to go to the state. He also granted the defense’s request to allow Sawyer work release so he can help support his 5-year-old daughter, despite adamant disagreement from prosecutors. Upon his release, Sawyer will be a registered sex offender and required to wear satellite based monitoring for life.

Governor McCrory Signs Kilah’s Law

On Wednesday, April 24, Governor Pat McCrory signed a bill that has come to be known as Kilah’s Law into law in Raleigh. The bill increases the penalties for convicted child abusers to a Class D felony and requires their official record show that the abused was younger than 16 years of age. Before this law, child abuse was classified as “domestic violence” on official records. Said the Governor, “It is our duty to protect North Carolina’s children to the best of our abilities. It is my hope that Kilah’s Law will help stop child abuse in our state.” Kilah’s Law is named after 4-year-old Kilah Davenport, a child  brutally abused while in her step-father’s care. Kilah suffered serious brain damage, a fractured skull, a broken collarbone and other injuries as a result of the attack in 2012.  Her step-father, Joshua Houser,  is currently imprisoned and awaiting trial. Kilah survived the attack.  She and her family joined Governor McCrory along with lawmakers for the bill signing Wednesday afternoon. Senator Tommy Tucker, who was one of the sponsors of the bill said, “No one can undo the acts of violence committed upon Kilah Davenport. We can, however, send a very clear message that North Carolina, as a civil and just society, will not allow this child’s suffering to continue in vain.”