A man who molested a 6-year-old girl in Russell County more than 13 years ago pleaded guilty this morning to sodomy charges and received a stern rebuke from the victim's family on top of a 20-year prison sentence.
You disgust me, the mother of the victim told Harold Roger Coverdale as he stood before the judge. I hope you get everything that you got coming to you.
Coverdale, 39, likely will serve about 85 percent of his sentence before he's eligible for parole, said Assistant District Attorney Buster Landreau.
Coverdale's confession last year helped authorities clear a number of hurdles that had stalled the investigation when the girl was taken to the hospital in 1999. Her family told the authorities at the time the girl had been kicked by her brother. Hospital officials, however, detected a sexually transmitted disease in the girl in addition to her injuries.
"At that time the little girl did not disclose what happened, which is not unusual in these cases," Landreau said. "So the investigation was kind of stymied.
Coverdale said he'd been tested and didn't have the disease. The problem is those records are absolutely confidential -- even law enforcement cant get them," Landreau said. "So there was no way to confirm or refute what he was claiming."
The case re-emerged years later when sheriff's officials responded to an unrelated disorderly call and were approached by the victim, now a woman, who asked them, "Whatever happened to that case back in 1999 when I was raped?" Landreau said.
Coverdale had moved to Ohio in the intervening years and been convicted there of sexually abusing two small children and giving them another venereal disease, prosecutors said. Online court records show Coverdale pleaded guilty to those charges in November 2004 in Franklin County. An arrest warrant shows he was charged with nine counts, including seven counts of rape.
Coverdale served a prison term of nearly three years, according to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction. He was arrested in March 2011 in Ohio on the Russell County charges, and gave a full confession to molesting the girl back in 1999. He was indicted by a Russell County grand jury last September on rape and sodomy charges, and had been scheduled for trial this week.
The rape charge was reduced to first-degree sexual abuse in exchange for Coverdale's plea. He got 10 years on that charge and 20 years for sodomy, sentences set to run concurrently.
Landreau said Coverdale's confession helped "tremendously," and the guilty plea prevented the victim from having to testify at trial.
The victim's family attended today's hearing and became emotional when the mother addressed Coverdale.