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Man sent to prison for sex crimes

A Chesapeake man will spend at least the next several decades in prison following his conviction of sex crimes.

Franklin Woods, 34, of 227 Township Road 130A, was found guilty by a jury last week of one first-degree count of rape and five third-degree counts of gross sexual imposition. The trial lasted four-days in Lawrence County Common Pleas Court.

Woods’ sentencing hearing was Thursday, where assistant prosecuting attorney Jeff Smith read a statement from the victim, who is known to be 14 years old.

“My life changed forever on the day of my second grade year,” the letter read. “It’s a day that, no matter how many years go by, or how many miles I put between myself and there, I will never forget. I will spend the rest of my life trying to overcome the damage that was done to me. I deal with many difficulties as a result of the abuse, including PTSD and anxiety. Those are things I will deal with forever. … I was scared of my own shadow. I was often afraid to sleep. Being around unfamiliar people, mostly men, scares me. I have spent a lot of time in therapy, and I know I will spend a lot more learning how to be ‘normal.’”

Smith recommended Woods be sentenced to 54 months in prison on each third-degree charge and 10 years to life in prison on the first-degree charge, all to be run consecutively.

“These were totally separate incidences. In light of the information and testimony we heard during the four-day trial last week, it is appropriate to run the sentences consecutively,” Smith said.

Joshua Bedtelyon, Wood’s attorney, asked for the court to consider that his client had no criminal record and he maintained his innocence.

Also, I would like the court to take into consideration the other… the forgotten victims, the people who are also left with dealing with the wake of something like this,” he said. “If the court were simply to give him the maximum sentence, these people are going to be left on the outside dealing with that.”

Bedtelyon asked for the minimum sentence possible.

“Have mercy on me,” Woods said. “I’m innocent.”

Judge Charles Cooper sentenced the man as recommended by the prosecutor and ordered that Woods be classified as a Tier III sex offender.

Woods requested an appeal in the case.