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Man gets life for child molestation

Smith pleads guilty after brief witness testimony

Bulloch County Superior Court Judge Gates Peed sentenced a man Thursday to life in prison, plus 25 years to serve after the man pled guilty to child molestation charges.
    Charlie Smith, 57, Sam Tillman Road, entered a guilty plea after hearing brief testimony from witnesses including the six-year-old victim's mother, according to clerk's office records.
    Smith was accused of molesting the six-year-old female relative Sept. 20, 2006, at a Cypress Lake Mobile Home Park residence belonging to the victim's grandmother, said Ogeechee Judicial Circuit Assistant District Attorney Scott Brannen.
    One of the victim's uncles, 16, walked into a laundry room and witnessed Smith engaging in an oral sex act with the child. The boy told his mother, who walked in and saw Smith trying to get the girl to put her pants back on, he said.
    When the victim's mother walked in and saw what was going on, "Smith ran," Brannen said.
    Investigators located Smith in a tent in which he lived near his sister's home, he said. There, they "found bags and bags of girl's and women's underwear."
    Witnesses gave testimony regarding Smith's history of "touching young girls" and said he had a history of cross-dressing, he said.
    Victims from past encounters with Smith were in the courtroom Thursday, although their testimony was inadmissible in court regarding the Sept. 20, 2006 incident, Brannen said.
    Family members testified the victim's father went into a rage after learning of the incident and went looking for Smith.  "He was irate, and they were afraid he was going to kill him," he said. The victim's grandmother contacted him via cell phone and "pled with him not to get out of the truck" and await law enforcement's arrival, he said.
    The girl's father was not in court Thursday. Family members said "they made sure he was out of the county," fearing his reaction out of anger, Brannen said.
    Smith pled guilty to aggravated child molestation, aggravated sodomy to a child under 10, two counts of child molestation and one count of enticing a child for indecent purposes, he said.
    Peed sentenced him to life on the first four charges and 25 years consecutive to serve on the charge of enticing a child, he said. The sentence is the maximum allowed for the charges, Brannen said.
    Smith is being held in the Bulloch County Jail pending placement in a state penitentiary, according to jail records.

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