MADISON - A federal judge Wednesday declined to add prison time to a retired Beloit police officer's 12-year state court sentence for having sex with a 14-year-old girl.
Larry J. Woods, 63, was sentenced Wednesday in federal court in Madison to 10 years in prison for transporting a minor across state lines for the purpose of having sex. The sentence will run concurrent to the 12-year sentence issued in Rock County Circuit Court in September. The prison sentence is to be followed by 12 years of supervised release.
Woods pleaded guilty to the federal charge on Aug. 7.
Woods retired from the Beloit Police Department in 2007 and then worked as a security guard for the School District of Beloit and the Beloit Public Library. At the library he became acquainted with the girl and her mother, gaining their trust, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Julie Pfluger.
Woods exploited that trust and had numerous sexual encounters with the girl, including on two trips to motels in Rockford, Illinois in May of 2018.
Pfluger contended that Woods warranted more prison time as a Rock County prosecutor said he would have asked for a 20-year sentence but knew that Woods still faced federal charges.
Transporting the girl to Rockford kept the crime concealed because people in Beloit would have recognized him, Pfluger told District Judge James Peterson.
Woods' conduct not only "shocked the community," but emotionally harmed the girl, her mother, and damaged the reputation of the Beloit Police Department, Pfluger said.
Beloit Police Chief David B. Zibolski said the allegations against Woods "are abhorrent and tarnish the badge that so many men and women are proud to wear. Woods' actions with this child betray the community that he swore to protect."
Following his arrest, Woods "slandered" the girl, calling her, "a loose cannon, a cutter," and that she had drugged him, Pfluger said.
As a result, the girl had to change schools and her mother lost jobs, Pfluger added.
Pfluger didn't specify how much additional time Woods should serve, but asked Peterson to make some federal time consecutive to his state sentence.
"She'll be 26 years old when he comes out and she still thinks they're getting married," Pfluger told Peterson.
Woods' attorney, Federal Defender Peter Moyers, acknowledged that his client's conduct was "terrible," but he argued that a 22-year sentence "is simply too long. Prior defendants.have done much worse for far longer and received far lower sentences," Moyers wrote the court.
Woods will be 75 when he's released from state prison and Moyers said his client should be sufficiently deterred from re-offending and no longer a danger to the community.
"More prison time would effectively be a life sentence..and this isn't a crime to effectively give you a life sentence," Moyers said.
Woods told Peterson that he has suffered and felt humiliation since being detained in jail. He said he knows what he did was wrong and now finds himself in the "pits of hell and needs to find a way out and contribute again to the community."
Woods' said his father was a pastor and he also felt the calling to be a pastor. Refusing that call is "His wrath," said Woods who otherwise "didn't know how I got here."
Peterson blamed Woods for his own actions saying it wasn't God's punishment for not becoming a pastor.
"I'm sure God was happy that you became a policeman and helped people," he said.
Instead, Woods preyed on a mother's trust and drew a young girl into a sexual relationship, lied to her, threatened her if she told anyone and ultimately damaged her "in a way in which I don't see how she'll recover," Peterson said.
"It was a cruel and heartless things to do to a little girl and as a parent and police officer I don't know how you can do that," the judge said.
Still, Peterson didn't believe he should lengthen Woods' sentence. Rock County Judge John Wood explicitly attributed the needs of the community, the victim and police department in determining that 12 years was sufficient punishment and Peterson said he couldn't add to that.
While he said Woods' crime was outrageous and he felt outrage for what the former police officer had done, adding his outrage by tacking on more time was only "piling on" and didn't acknowledge the defendant's rights at sentencing, Peterson said.
The Rock County sentence included five years of supervised release once Woods' prison sentence was complete. Peterson added seven years to Woods' extended supervision and will determine the restitution the victim should receive at a Jan. 10 hearing.