A Columbia County jury acquitted a former 4-H employee accused of sexually molesting a 15-year-old girl.
The jury returned a not guilty verdict Wednesday for Jennifer Gayle Davenport, 27, of Augusta. She was charged with aggravated sexual battery and aggravated child molestation.
“She has been around thousands of young women and young men,” Davenport’s attorney, Lynn Akeley-Alderman, said in her closing arguments of the longtime 4-H volunteer and former program assistant in Columbia County. “Thousands of children. Who else have we got here besides (the girl) saying this happened? No one.”
Davenport, who hugged family and friends in the hallway outside the courtroom after the verdict was announced, was accused of sexual conduct with the teen inside the girl’s Martinez home in three separate occasions in February.
The jury had little evidence to consider in the case including the girl’s testimony, the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office investigator and several witnesses who testified on behalf of Davenport. Some of those witnesses also said they knew and wouldn’t believe the girl. There was no evidence to corroborate the story of the teen, who testified late Monday and early Tuesday.
Akeley-Alderman said in her opening statement Monday that the girl made up the allegations.
Assistant District Attorney Titus Nichols said that he knows children lie and teen girls can be fickle. But he questioned why the teen would lie and have to explain the details of the sexual acts to her mother and make it all public in the court process.
“Knowing the absolute hell they have to go through when they do (come forward with such allegations), why would they ever tell the truth,” Nichols asked in his closing arguments.
Despite the verdict, the stigma of such allegations will likely remain with Davenport.
“Regardless of this jury’s verdict,” Akeley-Alderman said in her closing, “this is going to stick with her the rest of her life.”