Jury finds David Woolfork not guilty on all charges

David Woolfork testifies at his trial today. / JORDAN BUIE/The Jackson Sun

Written by Nichole Manna

Jurors have found former Madison County Sheriff David Woolfork not guilty of all charges.

The jury returned with the verdict shortly after 7 p.m. tonight after hearing two days of testimony in the trial in Madison County Circuit Court. The jury deliberated for about two hours before reaching the verdict.

Woolfork was found not guilty of attempted aggravated sexual battery, a felony. Jurors also had the option to consider the lesser charges of attempted sexual battery or assault by bodily injury, and found him not guilty on those charges as well.

Woolfork, who retired as sheriff of Madison County in February, was initially indicted on charges of attempted aggravated sexual battery and domestic assault against Sharon Sangster.

This afternoon Judge Paul Summers ordered that the charge of domestic assault be dropped. The jury only considered the charge of attempted aggravated sexual battery and the lesser versions of that charge.

Summers said he dismissed the domestic assault charge because the indictment used the wording that the victim was a member of Woolfork’s household or family, which has not been proved in this case. The judge said he eliminated the domestic assault charge to avoid the risk of an inconsistent verdict from the jury.

Woolfork has admitted to an affair with Sangster, a Sheriff’s Office employee, while she worked for him.

In her testimony about an incident at her house on Oct. 10, Sangster accused Woolfork of grabbing her arm, pushing her down on her bed, holding her down with one hand and putting his other hand down her shorts.

Woolfork testified their confrontation was verbal, not physical, and that Sangster cursed at him and stole his cell phone.

Editor’s Note:

Domestic assault in Tennessee is an assault against a victim who is a family or household member including:

  • a current or former spouse of the offender
  • person with whom the offender resides or previously resided
  • person who the offender is dating or previously dated or someone with whom the offender has or previously had a sexual relationship
  • someone with whom the offender is related by blood or adoption
  • a person with whom the offender is or was related by marriage, and
  • an adult or minor child of the offender or a family or household member. (Tenn. Code Ann. §36-3-601, §39-13-11.)

The sections below explain domestic violence in more detail.

Assault is defined in Tennessee as simple assault or aggravated assault. Simple assault consists of:

  • intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causing bodily injury to another person
  • causing a person to reasonably fear imminent bodily injury; or
  • causing physical contact with another that a reasonable person would find extremely provocative or offensive. (Tenn. Code Ann. §39-13-101.)

For more information on simple assault, see Simple Assault in Tennessee.

Aggravated assault consists of:

  • intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causing serious bodily injury to another person
  • committing an assault using or displaying a deadly weapon
  • intentionally or knowingly attempting to cause bodily injury by strangulation, or
  • intentionally or knowingly causing or attempting to cause bodily injury to another or committing or attempting to commit an assault while under an order, diversion or probation agreement that prohibits such actions. (Tenn. Code Ann. §39-13-102.)

For more information on aggravated assault, see Aggravated Assault in Tennessee.

If a person in a domestic dispute intends to injure another and does so, he is guilty of assault. If an assailant intends to cause serious injury to a family or household member and does so, he is guilty of aggravated assault. An act committed recklessly that causes physical injury or serious physical injury to the victim also can constitute domestic assault.

A reckless act is one that is deliberately committed without regard for the outcome. Pushing someone out of the way in a crowd so that you can get through, without intending to injure the person, could be an assault if the person falls and is injured.

An assault resulting in serious bodily injury is a more serious crime than an assault resulting in bodily injury. The term bodily injury refers to minor injury like a cut, scrape, or bruise. Serious bodily injury involves significant harm such as a broken bone, disfigurement, loss of a limb, or an injury requiring surgery or hospitalization.

 

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