The key decision for a federal judge Wednesday was whether to give retired Beloit police officer Larry J. Woods more time in prison.
A Rock County judge already had sentenced Woods on Sept. 27 to 12 years in prison for repeated sexual assault of a child.
Woods was sentenced Wednesday for crossing state lines during what U.S. Judge James Peterson called a “perverted relationship” with a 13-year-old girl in 2018.
Federal sentencing guidelines called for about 10 years in prison, Peterson said, but making that sentence run consecutive to the state charge would be “darned near a life sentence.”
In the end, Peterson imposed the 10 years but made them concurrent, so Woods will serve them at the same time as he serves his state sentence.
Peterson added to the sentence, however, imposing 12 years of post-prison federal supervision. Those years will be served after the five years of extended supervision imposed with the state sentence.
Woods was a security guard at Aldrich Intermediate School in Beloit and at the Beloit Public Library before his arrest in June 2018, and he used that position, having sex with the girl after he closed the library at night, Assistant U.S Attorney Julie Pfluger said.
Woods manipulated the girl by telling her he loved her and wanted to marry her and have children with her, Pfluger said.
His manipulations included telling the girl’s mother he had a daughter the same age, although he didn’t, Pfluger said.
Criminals often ask for breaks because their crimes stem from drug use, trauma or poverty, Pfluger noted, but Woods, as a career police officer, knew better, making his crime all the worse.
When caught, Woods blamed the girl, attacking her character and saying she had drugged him, Pfluger said. The result was the girl had to change schools, and the mother lost her job.
Woods’ acts also harmed the Beloit Police Department, which lost the trust of some in the community, Pfluger said.
Pfluger noted the 12-year state prison term, adding: “Frankly, the (federal) government feels like that’s not enough.”
Defense attorney Peter Moyers said what Woods did was “terrible,” but it was not the worst crime the court sees.
Woods, 63, will be 75 when he finishes his state prison sentence in 2031, Moyers noted.
Moyers read a letter from one of Woods’ adult children, who wrote on behalf of the family that Woods was a great father and a kind man who always had an answer to his kids’ problems and always was there to support their extracurricular activities.
What Woods did was “abhorrent,” the letter states, but “as bad as it was, we forgive him.”
The letter writer pleaded for mercy and a chance for Woods to redeem himself.
Woods told the court that as a police officer, he once saved a woman from a burning house. Looking back at his crime, he asks himself, “How could I have done that?”
Woods said he has suffered humiliation and finds himself in “the pits of hell” and has to find a way to climb out. He told how his father, a Christian pastor, wanted him to follow in his footsteps, but he chose police work.
“This is God’s punishment for me saying no to him,” Woods said.
Peterson called Woods’ crime outrageous and heartless and said he doesn’t see how the victim will recover from it.
But it wasn’t God’s punishment, Peterson said.
“This is what you did. I think God would have been perfectly happy with you being a police officer, pulling people from burning buildings.”
It would be easy to add to the outrage already expressed in Rock County Court, Peterson said, but his job includes applying reason and respecting Woods’ rights.
Peterson did not impose a fine, saying he wanted to preserve Woods’ ability to pay restitution to the family. He set a restitution hearing for Jan. 10.