Lawrence Edward Womac appeals his convictions and sentences
for aggravated sexual battery, child molestation, cruelty to
children in the first degree, and false
imprisonment. On appeal, Womac argues, among other
things, that his life sentence for aggravated sexual battery
constitutes cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the
Georgia Constitution. For the reasons that follow, and
finding no additional error, we affirm.
in a light most favorable to the verdict, the evidence shows
that, on July 19, 2013, Womac invited the minor victim, K.W.,
and her siblings into his motel room. While watching
television, Womac placed his hand down K.W.'s shorts and
the tip of his finger penetrated her vagina. K.W. removed
Womac's hand and then ran into the bathroom to get away
from him; Womac followed. Once inside, Womac put his left
hand on K.W.'s throat, his right hand on her mouth and
squeezed. Womac held K.W. against the toilet to keep her from
leaving, kissing her on her neck and shoulders, placing his
hands on her buttocks and vaginal area. Womac licked
K.W.'s vagina, stating that "he was getting it
ready." Then he proceeded to place his penis in her
vagina, mouth and buttocks.
the incident, K.W. left and, eventually, reported the assault
to her father and another motel resident. K.W. also disclosed
another incident with Womac that had occurred a few days
prior, wherein Womac grabbed K.W. while she was walking
outside, pulled her into a nearby building and made her touch
his penis with her hands and mouth.
was taken to the hospital where a sexual assault examination
revealed bruising and abrasions on her arm, leg, and neck,
and abrasions and redness around and inside her vagina. The
nurse testified that these injuries were consistent with
K.W.'s description of what had occurred during the sexual
Womac left his motel room and later told his daughter about
his plans to leave Georgia and travel to Illinois because he
needed to "get away." Law enforcement subsequently
searched Womac's room, and though the bedroom had animal
feces, urine spots, cockroaches, food, and open containers,
the bathroom appeared to have been cleaned with bleach,
netting negative results to fluorescence testing for bodily
fluids. Officers obtained surveillance footage from the day
in question showing K.W. and her siblings entering
Womac's room and K.W. later leaving by herself. The State
also presented other acts evidence from two witnesses who
described previous sexual assaults on minors committed by
Womac first argues that his life sentence for aggravated
sexual battery violates the prohibition against cruel and
unusual punishment under the Georgia Constitution. According
to Womac, his sentence is unconstitutional because K.W.'s
lack of consent was presumed by law without the State having
to prove that the criminal act of aggravated sexual battery
occurred without the victim's consent, and thus the
aggravated sexual battery statute is a strict lability crime
for which he received an overly harsh life sentence. Cf.
Watson v. State, 297 Ga. 718 (2) (777 S.E.2d 677)
(2015) (holding that the offense of sexual battery requires
the State prove the victim's lack of consent, regardless
of the victim's age, and charge the jury on the same). We
disagree. In this case, unlike the jury in Watson,
the jury was not instructed that a minor is legally incapable
of consenting to sexual contact as it applied to aggravated
sexual battery. The jury charge on aggravated sexual
battery did not suggest that the element of "without
consent" was established based solely upon the
victim's age; thus, contrary to Womac's assertion,
the aggravated sexual battery charge was not a strict
liability crime as the jury was required to find that K.W.
did not, in fact, consent to the penetration alleged in the
indictment. Consequently, we find Womac's constitutional
challenge to be without merit.
During its case-in-chief, the State called Womac's
daughter, A.W., as an other acts witness; A.W. testified that
she had been sexually abused by her father. During direct
examination, the following exchange occurred:
Q: Up until the time he was arrested last year did you have
any sort of relationship with [Womac]?
A: Yes, I did.
Q: And why was that?
A: I used him for marijuana.
objected to this testimony and moved for a mistrial. The
trial court denied the motion and instructed the jury to
disregard A.W.'s statement. ...