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Former 4-H worker's child molestation trial begins

Posted: September 30, 2013 - 5:24pm

The trial of an former 4-H employee accused of having a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old girl began Monday in Columbia County.

Jennifer Gayle Davenport, 27, of Augusta, was charged with aggravated sexual battery and aggravated child molestation after the victim’s mother told Columbia County Sheriff’s Office investigators in March that she discovered Davenport had a sexual relationship with her 15-year-old daughter.

Though Davenport seemed to be the sister the teen never had, Assistant District Attorney Titus Nichols said in his opening statement that her actions were those of a “sexual predator.”

Davenport met the teen, who is an active participant in 4-H, through the organization late last year. The teen began testifying late Monday afternoon and said she and Davenport became close friends and spent a lot of time together.

The teen testified that their close relationship became physical on Super Bowl Sunday, when Davenport kissed and fondled her in her Martinez home while her parents were downstairs. Though she resisted, the teen said Davenport didn’t listen.

“I just let it happen and didn’t do anything,” the teen said, adding she didn’t want to embarrass and upset her family and get herself and Davenport in trouble. “Up until that point, I never really had a friend that treated me like Jennifer did. ... I was going to do whatever I had to to protect that.”

The teen said the next day, Davenport came back to her Martinez home and they had another sexual encounter that progressed to more intense fondling. On Feb. 14, the teen said Davenport again came to her home and performed oral sex on her.

Davenport’s attorney, Lynn Akeley-Alderman, said in her opening statement that Davenport helped many young people through 4-H and the allegations against her aren’t true.

The victim “has some issues that would drive her to make such claims against my client,” Akeley-Alderman said, adding that the only evidence against Davenport is the teen’s testimony. “She couldn’t help this girl and based on some untold motivation, she lashed out against my client.”

Davenport worked with 4-H for about a year and quit as a 4H program assistant about three weeks before her arrest, according to Shirley Williamson, Columbia County’s 4-H coordinator. Through her job, Davenport had regular contact with children in and out of schools.

Davenport was released from the Columbia County Detention Center a few days after her arrest after posting a $25,000 bond.

The trial is expected to continue Tuesday with Akeley-Alderman’s cross-examination of the teen to include playing her interview with the Child Advocacy Center.

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