Wagoner County, Okla., December 19, 2018: District 27 District Attorney Jack Thorp credits a brave girl with getting a dangerous child predator off the streets, after her impact statement helped put the former Tulsa County deputy on the sex offender registry for life, and in state custody for 25 years.
A Wagoner County judge sentenced Josh Wood, 36, to 25 years in Oklahoma Department of Justice custody on Wednesday, after Wood pled no contest to child sexual abuse stemming from an incident in June 2016. Wood will serve 20 years in prison and 5 additional years on probation.
“The young victim in this case may not realize it, but she is absolutely the hero of this story,” said Thorp of the then-11-year-old girl who reported the assault to her mother, who then reported it to authorities.
“When you think about what it took for this young girl – and her mother – to come forward and identify this man, who used to wear a uniform in a position of public trust,” Thorp said, “and to go through a two-year legal process where she had to recount her painful story over and over again, you realize what exceptional strength and courage she had to muster.”
Investigators with the Wagoner County Sheriff’s Department said Wood offered to drive the victim to her Wagoner County home to pick up some clothes for a sleepover after a swim party at his Tulsa home. It was during that round trip, Wood instructed the victim to pull down her pants while speaking explicitly about sex. As he drove, he reached over to the victim and sexually assaulted her, then unzipped his pants and showed her his private parts.
“This child was so scared and confused, she thought she’d done something wrong,” Thorp said. “When Michelle played the recording of the victim telling her mother about the assault, the whole courtroom was visibly shaken.”
Michelle Keeley led the state’s prosecution of the trial in October. After the victim and her mother took the stand, and Keeley played the audio of the victim revealing the assault to her mother, Wood announced he would take plea deals in both Wagoner and Tulsa Counties. A former JAG for the Oklahoma Air National Guard where she continues to serve as a Lt. Colonel, Keeley has prosecuted more than 100 jury trials.
“This defendant can never pay enough for what he took away from this innocent child,” Keeley said, “but we’re grateful the criminal case is resolved so that she can close this chapter and begin the long, arduous process of healing.”
The state submitted three victim impact statements for the sentencing phase. The victim described how Wood’s actions affected her emotional and physical health in ways that continue to haunt her. Her mother and stepfather described financial strains due to the victim’s lengthy hospitalization and treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as her expulsion from school because of her stress- and illness-related absences.
Wood is serving three 25-year sentences concurrently. He will serve 20 years in prison and 5 years on probation.