David Woolfork’s trial set for May

Former Sheriff David Woolfork was in Madison County Circuit Court Tuesday with attorney Mark Donahoe to discuss a change of plea deadline hearing and also for the dismissal of the order of protection placed against Woolfork.Written by Nichole Manna / Jackson Sun

Judge Paul Summers of Nashville officially dismissed an order of protection against former Madison County Sheriff David Woolfork at a hearing Tuesday. Afterward, Assistant District Attorney Marques Young, defense attorney Mark Donahoe and Summers discussed criminal charges against Woolfork, which have been set for trial for May 27, 28 and 29.

“We set trial dates and hearing dates for any motions that may be filed and set cut-offs for when any motions may be filed and when, if an agreement is reached, when that could be put in,” Donahoe said after Woolfork’s Tuesday morning court appearance.

Woolfork has been charged with attempted aggravated sexual battery and domestic assault against Deputy Sharon Sangster stemming from an incident at her home in October.

Since the incident, Woolfork and Donahoe have maintained that Woolfork has done nothing illegal.

Sangster is alleging that Woolfork assaulted her at her home on Oct. 10.

“I think we’re going to find that everything’s going to come out just like we said all along; (the) sheriff didn’t do anything wrong,” Donahoe said.

Donahoe said they would entertain the option of a plea agreement, if one were to be made.

“It’s my duty ethically to communicate any plea offers to the sheriff; at this time none have been made,” he said.

Since no plea offer has been made, there’s nothing to consider at this time, Donahoe said.

“We’ve always said we are ready to go to trial in this case and it remains that way,” he said.

During the hearing, a motion for reciprocal discovery was granted.

“If I plan to use anything in trial, documents, records or anything like that, I am, under certain circumstances, required to give those documents to the state ahead of time,” Donahoe said in explaining what the motion meant. “If it fits the requirements I will certainly do that.”

Donahoe said that the state has shared some of its discoveries with him already.

“They have provided me with a disk with documents and pictures and other items that they intend to use in trial, and we have those in our possession now,” he said.

Young, who is an assistant district attorney for the 30th Judicial District in Tennessee, said this case isn’t any different than other assault cases.

“We treat all cases the same,” he said. “We treat domestic violence cases very seriously.”

Order of protection

Sangster was granted an order of protection against Woolfork in October, and Donahoe appealed the action the next day.

The appeal hearing was scheduled for Tuesday, but Sangster and her attorney, Deborah Godwin, announced last Friday that they would no longer be seeking the order of protection against Woolfork since he’s retired from his post as sheriff.

But Godwin wrote in an email statement that they still plan to go forward with the criminal case against Woolfork. The former sheriff cannot have contact with Sangster as a condition of his bail.

Donahoe said he’s not surprised that they decided to drop the order of protection.

“I’m not surprised at all, not after they’ve been paid all their money. Now they’re ready to go home,” he said.

Madison County commissioners approved a settlement last month that resolved civil sexual harassment claims by Sangster and Lt. Lisa Balderrama.

Sangster was awarded $210,000, and Balderrama $130,000. All but $1,000 of the settlement money will be paid by an insurance policy. The county is liable for $500 for each of the two claims — for a total of $1,000.

Even if the appeal had gone to court Tuesday, Donahoe said he was confident it would be dismissed.

“We took the position all along that there never was anything to it,” he said. “It should have been dismissed to start with.”

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