Convicted sex offender charged again, could be federal case


by Joe Arnold

Posted on October 25, 2011 at 6:28 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11)— A Jefferson County grand jury has returned a 14 count indictment against David Wheatley, a convicted sex offender who police say posed as a military or police officer.

The alleged crimes from the 1990's are now coming back to haunt Wheatley.

The indictment charges him with rape, sodomy, sexual abuse and other sexual contact with three girls between 1990 and 1997, two under the age of 16 and one under the age of 12.

Wheatley was already facing a December trial for two counts of rape. 

"He ended up raping me and I ended up getting pregnant from it," one woman told WHAS11 News in February, 2010, "And I had to give my daughter up for adoption cause I was 16 at the time."

The woman told us she trusted Wheatley because he was the commander of her Naval Sea Cadets Unit.  Investigators say Wheatley pretended to be a Marine and a cop. 

"This is a somewhat unique case in using uniforms like this and it really plays on what we teach our children to obey authority, to trust certain kinds of people," said Richard Tewksbury, a U of L Justice Administration professor, "and we're talking about a case here where someone really abused those very positive messages we give our children to do some very bad things to them."

Wheatley's case has gotten national attention.  But his alleged crimes are tragically common.

National crime figures estimate that one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before the age of 18.

"It is staggering," said Judith Bloor, Home of the Innocents Vice-President, "The reality is abusers are often people that are acquaintances or known to the family or a family member unfortunately, someone who gains the trust of both the child and the family.  And looks like you or me."

The Home of the Innocents ChildKind Center serves about 1000 physical and sexual abuse victims each year.

"The sooner the better," Bloor explained, "because while there are some long term effects of course or the potential for those with child sexual abuse, it doesn't have to be if we can identify it early, get in and help get that support both for the child and for the family."

Tewksbury says it's not just the kids who need treatment.

"The official recidivism rates are only around 10 to 15 percent for previously convicted sexual abusers," Tewksbury said, "So it's important to get people into the system to get them treatment to be monitoring and supervising them and that really does show an important impact on reducing the likelihood of other kids being victimized."

Though Wheatley is due in Jefferson Circuit Court on Monday, Metro Police tell WHAS11 News that federal prosecutors will be taking over the case. 

The federal courts are a much harsher environment for those accused of sexually abusing children.