Opp man gets 20 years for child sex abuse

Published 11:30 am Thursday, February 7, 2019

Wellington Emanuel Clarke, 33, of Opp, who was scheduled to be tried by a jury on child sexual abuse charges, pleaded guilty in front of Judge Charles A. Short this week.


Clarke pleaded guilty to Enticing a Child for Immoral Purposes and to two counts of Attempted Sexual Abuse of a Child Under Twelve. Judge Short sentenced him to 20 years imprisonment for each conviction, the maximum sentence possible for each conviction. David Baker  represented Clarke, and Chief Assistant District Attorney Grace Jeter represented the state. 

Clarke was charged with the crimes in 2016 after a joint investigation by the Opp Police Department and the Covington County Department of Human Resources.  The investigation began after concerned parents that Clarke had invited their children to his home, claiming that his own child was visiting. The children told their parents that Clarke’s child had, at times, not been present, and that inappropriate things had happened.   

Jeter commended the Opp Police Department and the Covington County Department of Human Resources for their investigation.

District Attorney Walt Merrell added, “Child sex crimes are among the most difficult to prove.  Physical evidence is rare, and the children are often fearful, ashamed and confused about what has happened.  When law enforcement and DHR present our office with a solid investigation, the defendant will almost always plead guilty.  Protecting the victims is one of our top priorities, and I am always pleased when we can keep a predator off the street and avoid putting children through the further trauma of a public trial.”