Gray Found Guilty in molestation case
by Wes Mayer
“He’s a bad man. I want him to go to jail. I want him to get in trouble.”
That was what one of Willie Autrey Gray’s victims said in 2012 during an interview with Investigator Danny McDonald with the Coweta County Sheriff’s Office.
After deliberating for more than three hours Friday, a Coweta Superior Court jury found Gray guilty on all four counts of child molestation and all eight counts of sexual exploitation of children.
Following the guilty verdict, Judge Emory Palmer sentenced Gray to 80 years, with 50 to serve in prison.
Gray received 20 years in prison each for the first and second child molestation charges. Gray was also sentenced to 20 years each on the third and fourth child molestation charges, to serve concurrently – a total of 40 years to serve. For the eight counts of sexual exploitation, Palmer sentenced Gray to 10 years in prison on the first count to run consecutively. For the next six counts, Palmer sentenced Gray five years each, 30 total, to serve consecutively, but with the option to serve on probation. The eighth count of child molestation was merged with the previous six.
Gray’s trial began Tuesday. The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Kevin McMurry, assisted by Assistant District Attorney Katie Doyle; Gray was defended by Atlanta attorney William D. Smith.
“What’s done in secret is eventually brought to the light,” McMurry said in opening arguments.
Between 2008 and 2011, two juvenile girls, who are also related to Gray through marriage, accused Gray of molesting them. Both were between the ages of 6 and 7 when the molestation occurred, and the younger multiple molestations. It was not until two or three years later, in 2011, that the two victims told their mother what happened — that Gray touched them in their private areas.
The victims’ parents did not immediately contact authorities. Instead, the two girls were signed up for therapy because their parents were primarily concerned with their health. It was a year later, in 2012, when more details of the molestations surfaced, that the parents contacted authorities.
According to one victim, Gray made her touch him. Gray also showed her videos of something she did not understand — pornography, which may have included children.
Following interviews with the victims, investigators Danny McDonald and Jason Fetner with the Coweta sheriff’s office obtained a search warrant for Gray’s home, and he was taken into custody and charged with child molestation on Aug. 1, 2012. Investigators seized a number of computers in the home and any other device capable of storing digital media.
Vickie Adams, a forensics computer analyst with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, discovered multiple videos and remnants of videos containing child pornography.
In the defense Smith contended Gray raised his own children and for years served as a foster parent with his wife. Many children, both related to him and friends of relatives, visited Grays’ home multiple times over the years – not once did any of these children say anything bad about Gray. The two victims’ parents, Smith said, were going through a tumultuous divorce during the time these accusations surfaced, and their parents’ fighting surely had an emotional impact on them.
Over time, the accusations changed and grew bigger and bigger, Smith said.
The child pornography found on Gray’s computer, Smith said, was completely unknown to Gray. Gray was an IT professional and worked with a company which, as one of their services, helped fix and update clients’ computers. The pornography somehow found its way onto Gray’s computers after he helped repair someone else’s, Smith contended.
Gray took the stand to testify in his own defense – after a day-and-a-half of McMurry presenting evidence against him.
McMurry called seven witnesses, including both victims, now ages 13 and 11. The older victim told of a single incident when she awoke one morning to find Gray lying next to her with his hand inside her panties.
The second witness accused Gray of molesting her multiple times and showing her what she described as videos of “undressed people.” He would touch her, and he would make her touch him.
The older victim was clearly upset with the fighting between her parents — Smith asked her about her journal, where she allegedly wrote she was afraid her dad would get a gun and kill everyone.
McMurry called the victims’ mother and questioned her about their relationship with Gray, a failed business the two families attempted and their living situations. Both families at some point lived with each other, and after the first molestation allegedly occurred, Gray and his wife actually moved in with the victims’ family when the Grays’ home was foreclosed on. Some of the molestations of the second victim may have occurred in the victim’s own home.
Smith called a number of character witnesses, including Gray’s wife, who all said he was a good person and never did anything like this before.
Testifying in his own defense, Gray claimed the child pornography remnants were all found in a folder titled with a woman’s name — a woman who worked at a company where he helped fix computers. When Gray fixed the woman’s computer’s hard drive, the child pornography on the woman’s computer must have somehow gotten onto his thumb drive, and later, all the computers in his home.
Gray also strongly denied molesting the victims and said, through McMurry’s questioning, that it was possible the victims’ mother was influencing the victims to make the accusations.
In his closing argument, McMurry said a conspiracy against Gray, which included the victims making accusations which tore a family apart, was preposterous. Gray also attempted to “throw an innocent woman under the bus” to prove he was not guilty of owning child pornography, McMurry said.