Wheaton preacher found guilty in sex case

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Jury finds Davidson guilty on two counts, sentencing hearing in May

A former Wheaton preacher at Lighthouse Church was found guilty by a jury Wednesday of statutory sodomy, a class A felony, and statutory rape, an unclassified felony.

Rickie Dean Davidson Sr., 61, of Wheaton, will appear before Jack Goodman, presiding judge for the 39th Judicial Circuit, for a sentencing hearing on May 20 at 1 p.m. The jury recommended sentencing of 18 years in prison on each charge, which carry a minimum of 10 years to life in prison.

According to the probable cause statement obtained from the Barry County Sheriff's Department, Davidson allegedly molested a 12-year-old girl for an approximate one-year period beginning in January of 2002.

In the statutory rape case (sexual intercourse with a child under the age of 14), the victim, whose name is being withheld because she was a minor at the time, said the incidents occurred at his home, located at 306 Hill St. in Wheaton. The victim said she moved into Davidson's home because her parents had moved out of the area, and shortly thereafter, Davidson allegedly persuaded her to commit oral sex acts on him, and he attempted sex acts on her.

The victim said Davidson used to tell her they could live together and have their own family, saying he would one day perform a ceremony claiming to have married them. She said several years later, she returned to the Lighthouse Church for a service, and while the congregation was in prayer, Davidson whispered to her that he was sorry for what he had done and asked her to forgive him and give her heart back to God.

In the statutory sodomy case, Davidson allegedly molested his 5-year-old granddaughter at his home, on multiple occasions beginning in January of 2004.

The victim, whose name is also being withheld, said the incidents occurred in the bathtub and on Davidson's bed, where she claimed he put a bowl over her head and committed the sexual acts.

The court case against Davidson began in January of 2011, when he was charged with the crimes after an investigation by Deputy Brian Landreth of the Sheriff's Department.

Davidson posted a $75,000 bond on Sept. 13, 2011, after an original jury trial scheduled for April of 2012 was canceled in January of 2012, as Davidson's attorney, Brian Smith, withdrew as counsel. After appearing twice without counsel, saying he was attempting to sell his house to obtain an attorney, Davidson appeared with attorney John Lewright on Jan. 17, 2012. The case was originally assigned to Judge Robert Wiley's court, but was moved to Goodman's court when he took the bench on Dec. 31, 2012.

Another jury trial was then set for Feb. 6, 2013, but that date was moved to Feb. 26, 2014, due to conflicts. After a number of continuances, and a transfer of the case to Judge Carr Woods' court, the case was moved back to Goodman's court and set for a trial date of March 31.

Lewright filed for two motions for mistrial and a motion for an acquittal on Tuesday, but all requests were denied.

The jury retired to deliberate at 10:21 a.m. on Wednesday, and verdicts of guilty on both counts were reached at 3:05 p.m.

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