The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Local News

October 31, 2013

Man arrested for 30-year-old crime

West Virginia State Police arrested a Ronceverte man Wednesday for alleged sex crimes that happened 30 years ago, State Police officials reported.

Cpl. J.L. Burdette arrested Woodrow Martin Smith, 63, on three counts of third-degree sexual assault, hours after a Greenbrier County man reported to police that Smith had sexually assaulted him when he was a child.

Third-degree sexual assault applies if the victim was under age 16 and at least four years younger than the victim and if the act is physically invasive.

Burdette said the alleged victim, now 42, reported that Smith was a family friend in the 1980s, when he allegedly assaulted the victim at the victim’s parents’ home and at Smith’s home.

Burdette said the sexual assault survivor had been haunted for years by memories of the assaults and had told his parents about the assaults for the first time Tuesday night.

On Wednesday, he made his report to law enforcement.

“It was just playing vividly through his mind, kind of like a bad nightmare, and it’s taken a toll on his life,” Burdette said. “He’s tried to make the best of it over the years, but he just made the decision that he needed to let it be known.”

Smith did not appear surprised when troopers showed up to arrest him, according to Burdette.

“The victim’s family were outraged, and they made a call to the accused, so he was kind of anticipating my arrival,” said  Burdette. “They called and had words with the accused. He had asked me when I got there, if he was under arrest.”

Burdette urged victims of any crime, including sex crimes, to file a report with the police.

“We can’t do anything about them, unless we know about them,” he said.

Burdette can be reached at 304-647-7600.

— Jessica Farrish

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