Taekwondo teacher sentenced to 15 years for molesting student

SENTENCING UPDATE: Taekwondo teacher sentenced to 15 years for molesting student

Chase Woolman began making sexual advances toward his victim when she was only 14-years-old.

Chase Woolman, 28, of Lake Wales.

Woolman sexually abused her for three years, taking advantage of the student-teacher relationship he had with her. Woolman was convicted of sexual battery and lewd molestation Friday and was sentenced to 15 years in prison, followed by 15 years of probation.

The girl had been a student at Woolman’s taekwondo school since she was 8, and the abuse began while she and other students were at a taekwondo training in 2010. Woolman started by simply touching her inappropriately, but their interaction eventually led to intercourse.

On a controlled phone call with law enforcement, Woolman admitted to having sex with his student and said he was “concerned every day the police were going to show up” and take him to jail. The victim told Woolman she felt that because he was in a leadership role in her life, she thought she could trust him.

Woolman apologized to the girl for breaking that trust.

Man who stalked young girls, flashed them sentenced to 10 years

SENTENCING UPDATE: Man who stalked young girls, flashed them sentenced to 10 years

After being fired from a job where he allegedly flashed a young girl, Adam Tharp spent his spare time stalking children at libraries in hopes of exposing himself to them.

Adam Tharp, 24, of Winter Haven.

Tharp, 24, of Winter Haven, pled guilty to lewd or lascivious exhibition Friday. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison, followed by 15 years of probation, by Judge Abdoney, who said Tharp’s actions were “alarming.”

The first reported incident was in May 2015 when Tharp was working at an auction house. A little girl went to the concession stand to get Cheetos and Pepsi, and she said Tharp turned around to face her with his genitalia out.

The child immediately ran back to her mother and told her what happened. Tharp claimed that the girl saw his finger and nothing else, but he was fired shortly after.

A year later, in May of 2016, Tharp began frequenting libraries in Polk County, specifically in Lakeland and Winter Haven.
Assistant State Attorney Ashley McCarthy said he would walk through the aisles of the children’s section and peek through the bookshelves to find little girls who were not with their parents. Evidence showed that Tharp crouched down and showed himself to at least one girl at the Winter Haven library.

Security footage from both libraries caught Tharp stalking little girls. Tharp admitted it was him in the video and told detectives he has a desire to expose himself to young girls.

Carter convicted of first-degree murder for fatal home-invasion robbery

JURY VERDICT: Carter convicted of first-degree murder for fatal home-invasion robbery

It only took jurors two hours at the end of a four-week trial to find Auban Carter guilty of first-degree murder.

Auban Carter, 27.

Carter was involved in a 2015 home-invasion robbery that resulted in the death of Kody Zawalski. Two others were critically injured in the incident, and a fourth victim was struck.

Carter was convicted Friday and was immediately sentenced to life in prison with no parole.

Levi Atkinson, who was shot and paralyzed during the shooting, told jurors what happened on January 11, 2015.

He and eight other friends were hanging out at their home when two armed gunmen came into the house demanding drugs and money. Atkinson was in the shower when Carter and his co-defendant entered the home, but he heard his brother’s voice and could tell something was wrong.

When Atkinson came out of the bathroom, he saw two men wearing bandanas over their faces – one was holding what appeared to be an assault rifle, and the other had a handgun. He told the gunmen that they didn’t have anything as his younger brother Tommy handed them a backpack.

That’s when a warning shot was fired.

“The reality of it set in,” Atkinson said, recalling that his ears were ringing. “They were actually about to shoot us.”
Atkinson told jurors that he was standing at the end of Carter’s rifle, with it pointed directly at him. Carter’s bandana mask was no longer covering his face, and Atkinson saw his face.

Carter tried to hit Atkinson with the butt of the gun, and then another shot rang out.

“That’s when Tommy got hit. He got shot in the chest,” Atkinson said.

He tried to push Carter out of the room, placing his left hand on Carter’s chest and pushing until he was through the front door. But when Atkinson turned around to run toward his brother, he heard another shot.

“I hit the ground so fast,” Atkinson said. “I instantly couldn’t feel my legs anymore.”

One of Atkinson’s friends picked him up and carried him out of the house as Carter continued to shoot at his friends – he heard at least 10 extra shots. As he was carried out, Atkinson saw his brother grasping at his wound and Zawalski lying on the kitchen floor.

Assistant State Attorney John Waters told the jury that there was a lot of circumstantial evidence linking Carter to the murder of Zawalski.

Assistant State Attorney John Waters addresses the jury. (File Photo)

Carter was found in possession of the murder weapon and similar bullets four days after the shooting, and his cell phone was located in the area of the crime at the time it occurred. His cell phone data was extracted, and it shows that Carter accessed multiple news websites right after the shooting.

“The history showed he’d never once accessed any type of news source,” Waters said.

His co-defendant also testified that Carter took part in the robbery and shot and killed Kody Zawalski.

Five of the victims all identified Carter in court, but the defense claimed that they were lying and colluding with each other. The defense even called in an expert witness to prove that point.

But Waters told the jury that two of the victims were inches away from Carter. Atkinson echoed that during his testimony in court.

“I am 100 percent, 1,000 percent positive that’s him,” Atkinson said, choking up. “I can’t forget that. … I think about his face all the time.”

In closing arguments, Waters reminded the jury about how Carter searched news sites for any mention of the shooting shortly after he committed it.

“You never look at the news and then all the sudden do hours after the murder, and you’re found in possession of the murder weapon,” he said. “There’s no logical inference anyone but the defendant did it.”

Lakeland man guilty of sexual battery on two girls, attempted on another

JURY VERDICT: Lakeland man guilty of sexual battery on two girls, attempted on another

Harold Parker groomed his victims to both expect and accept his abuse.

Harold Parker, 63, of Lakeland.

He bought the three victims clothes and toys while he took care of them after school, and when he’d end up alone with one of the girls, Parker would sexually abuse her.

“He made the despicable seem normal,” Assistant State Attorney Lauren Randall told the jurors.

After an hour and a half of deliberation, a jury found him guilty Oct. 11 of two counts of sexual battery and one count of attempted sexual battery. He faces a mandatory life sentence, which will be imposed on December 1.

When Parker babysat the girls every day after school, he would sometimes take them to the glass cutting shop he worked at. They would play games on the computer while sitting on his lap, and he would touch them inappropriately.

Parker would also abuse the girls in various places, waiting until he was alone with one of the girls before he touched her. On a few occasions, the youngest victim would ask Parker why he kept abusing her – he never gave her an answer but told her not to tell her mom.

A taped statement from the youngest victim was played in court, and the girl said she made excuses to stay away from him, but it felt like he still touched her every other time she went over to his house.

“It was whenever he could,” the victim said.

The oldest of the three victims was 10 when she finally realized that what Parker was doing to her was wrong. But their families had a falling out in 2012, and the girls didn’t run into him again for four years.

Randall said the victims’ grandfather was with them when they ran into Parker at a grocery store – he saw the girls’ expressions change from “happy go lucky to closed in and scared.” He realized something had happened between them, and Parker was reported to law enforcement.

A controlled phone call was conducted between Parker and the oldest victim. She told him that before he was allowed back in their lives, she wanted to make sure the touching never happened again.

“We’ll start fresh … It’s never going to happen again, dear,” Parker told her, “That I can promise you.”

On another controlled call, Parker said, “You’ll never believe how sorry I am for everything that happened in the past.”

The victim told him that she talked to her sister about the ways he abused them, and they never wanted it to happen again.

Parker’s answer was simple: “Absolutely.”

The defense attorney claimed Parker’s statements on the controlled phone call weren’t enough to prove he was guilty. He claimed that there was a rush to judgement because no medical or physical evidence existed – only statements from the victims.

Randall told the jurors that it was impossible for there to be any fingerprints or DNA from incidents that happened seven years ago. She also reminded them that there was evidence in that all three victims were consistent in who abuse them, where the abuse took place and the specific acts that happened.

But it was the phone call, Randall said, that provided proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

“It proves beyond all doubt that Harold Parker did something to these girls. … He accepted responsibility of it. He was in agreement with her and never denied it,” Randall told jurors in her closing argument. “The phone call was him acknowledging the abuse and admitting it will absolutely never happen again. He was apologizing. That all goes toward your conviction that this man committed this crime.”