Two life sentences plus 120 years is a long sentence even for Cobb County, the conservative suburban stronghold northwest of Atlanta where judicial candidates succeed when they run on “lock ’em up” rhetoric. But the facts of the case explain it.
The conviction was rape. Of a 4-year-old child. Repeatedly over two years. It finally stopped because she worked up the courage to tell, when she was 5. She had to face him in court and testify against him, clutching a toy stuffed animal.
On Friday, after a weeklong trial before Senior Judge Grant Brantley, a Cobb County Superior Court jury convicted Frederick Wade Sherwood, 48, of all charges, including rape, aggravated sodomy and child molestation. Sherwood was sentenced the same day.
The attacks took place between 2014 and 2015 in Sherwood’s Delk Road apartment, according to a news release Tuesday from District Attorney Vic Reynolds. The child disclosed the abuse to family members in early 2016. On the witness stand, she testified she didn’t tell anyone about the abuse sooner because she was scared the defendant would be mad at her.
“Any time a small child has to face their abuser in court is particularly difficult,” said the prosecutor, Cobb County Assistant District Attorney Katie Gropper, in the news release. “We are always hopeful that the judicial process is an empowering step towards healing. While we can’t undo the harm the defendant caused to this child, the jury’s verdict will help bring a sense of justice and closure and ensure that Mr. Sherwood can never harm another child in our community.”
Another witness also testified to being sexually abused years earlier in another city by the same man. That survivor was a boy.
Sherwood has been in custody since May 2016. He’s being defended by Marietta attorneys Gary Walker and Kevin Connor. They did not immediately return calls for comment.