Man, 74, accused of abuse

Published 11:59 pm Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A Florala man was jailed Tuesday after he was charged with sexually abusing a 12-year-old.

Florala Police Chief Sonny Bedsole said Luther Paul Townsend, 74, was charged with two counts of sexual abuse of a child under 12 and two counts of sexual abuse of a child after the department received a report Tuesday afternoon from the victim’s grandmother.

“Once we received that report, we contacted the Department of Human Resources, who came and interviewed the victim,” Bedsole said. “Based on the victim’s statement to us, there were at least four counts of sexual abuse that occurred — two of those under the age of 12.”

Bedsole said the joint investigation with the Lockhart Police Department is ongoing and more charges are expected in the future.

“The victim told us that this had been occurring for more than two years,” he said. “Our next step is to have the victim interviewed by the Child Advocacy Center in Dothan. This is a very traumatic experience for her and she is very brave for coming forward.

“Instances such as this are a prime example of how these things can happen here,” he said. “We want to encourage parents to pay close attention to their children if their behavior changes — that is one of key warning signs of potential abuse.”

Bedsole said anyone suspecting instances of child abuse should call the nearest law enforcement agency.

Currently, Townsend is being held in the Covington County Jail on a $650,000 bond.