Guilty verdict in child sex abuse case
by Rachel Davis
Jun 16, 2013 | 4624 views | 0 0 comments | 102 102 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A Walker County jury convicted James David Wade, 45, of Oakman, late Friday on three charges of sexual abuse of a child under the age of 12 and one count of sodomy of a child under the age of 12.

District Attorney Bill Adair said the charges stem from abuse suffered between 2004 and 2009 at Wade’s home. The case was indicted in 2010 by a Walker County grand jury.

Wade took the stand during the trial, as did his victim, the victim’s mother, then-investigator for the District Attorney’s Office John Rowe and Debbie Wilbourn, a forensic interviewer from the Prescott House in Birmingham.

Adair said the testimony of Wilbourn regarding the victim interview at the child advocacy center was important to securing the conviction but was almost excluded because of issues getting the expert to court. Adair said he is grateful to the Prescott House for its assistance in cases, but this case highlights the reasons he believes it is time for Walker County to start its own center.

“This case illustrates the need for a CAC in this county,” Adair said. “This is the kind of case, with a local child and events happening in our community, that we will be dealing with on a day-to-day basis.”

In addition to conducting the interviews in a more timely manner, he said it would also ensure that the interviewers were readily available for court.

“One of the tragedies I see is that we have far too many of these cases,” Adair said. “The need is just so great.”

The Walker County Children’s Advocacy Center has been one of Adair’s top priorities since he was elected. The center recently took the step of purchasing a building and hopes to be fully up and running very soon. The center has received a great deal of community support in the form of monetary and materials donation to get the center started.

Although Wade had been out on bail pending the resolution of the trial, he was handcuffed immediately following the verdict and taken to the Walker County Jail to await sentencing.

The sodomy charge is a Class A felony with a possible sentence of 10 years to life in prison. The sex abuse charges are Class B felonies and carry a possible sentence of two to 20 years each. If Wade is ever released from prison, he would be required to register as a sex offender for the remainder of his life.

The defense in this case has asked for a pre-sentencing report from the state’s Pardon and Parole Board. This is a written report with detailed background information on the individual, including any prior convictions. Adair said he hopes sentencing will take place within the next 30 days.

Adair said his office is asking the judge for a tough sentence because of the nature of the crime. “We believe this kind of case requires a stiff penalty, and we will be asking for a harsh sentence from the judge,” Adair said.

This was the second jury trial in the county this week for the District Attorney’s Office, and Adair expressed appreciation to his staff, the jurors and the judges for their assistance in clearing up the older cases.

“I very much appreciate these judges pushing through these cases,” Adair said. “And I appreciate the jurors that had to sit through the trials. I know it is a great inconvenience to people to have to take time out of their lives to serve on a jury, but it is so helpful in trying to get the backlogged cases cleared.”