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Tuesday, June 18, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Appellate Victory for Facilitator of Child Rape

ATLANTA (CN) - A woman convicted of helping a pedophile rape her 7-year-old niece for money may be entitled to a new trial, the Georgia Court of Appeals ruled.

A Cobb County jury in 2011 found Rebecca Wiggins guilty of sexual exploitation of a child, aggravated sodomy, child molestation and first-degree child cruelty. Wiggins' niece testified that her aunt, who had custody of her in 2004 while her mother was in jail, repeatedly took her to the house of David Ray, a Cobb County acquaintance, who paid the aunt to have sex with the then-7-year-old girl.

The victim said Wiggins bathed her in the pedophile's tub before the sexual acts and held her hand while the man sodomized her, telling her it would be "OK."

Prosecutors said Ray paid Wiggins more than $9,000 for access to her niece.

Wiggins allegedly told her niece that they depended on the sexual acts with Ray for food and shelter. She urged the girl not to tell police, saying that child services would take her away and she would never see her mother again, the victim testified.

In therapy, the victim said Ray had molested her and her younger sister, that Wiggins took nude pictures of her for Ray, and that she told her she would get "$200 to $300 to $400" for giving Ray blow jobs.

She also confessed that her younger sister's father allegedly molested her when they lived with their aunt in Savannah, a Nov. 18 ruling by the appeals court says.

Ray killed himself in April 2009, a day after Marietta police served a search warrant on him in connection with the child-molestation charges, according to the ruling.

Wiggins, 37 at the time of the trial, was sentenced to life plus 20 years in prison for the sexual exploitation and sodomy offenses, with the remaining offenses merged into the first one.

"This child was repeatedly violated, really, at your hands," Cobb County Superior Court Judge G. Grant Brantley told Wiggins as he sentenced her, according to the Marietta Daily Journal. "You transported her to the place where it was done, for profit. You bathed and prepared her for a person who physically performed the act. You held her down in one instance, and in another you held her hand (while the girl was sodomized). And the only comfort you gave her in holding her hand was telling her it was all right." (Parentheses in the original news report.)

After she was denied a new trial, Wiggins claimed on appeal that she had not been afforded the correct standard in reviewing her claim that the evidence did not support the jury's verdict.

A three-judge appellate panel agreed with Wiggins last week and told the trial court to reconsider the motion for a new trial under the appropriate standard.

The court did find that the sexual-exploitation conviction was supported by the victim's testimony, however, pointing to testimony that Wiggins had taken pictures of her niece naked with her legs spread and had sent them to Ray, according to the ruling.

As for the sodomy charge, it was up to the jury to determine whether the victim's testimony implicating Wiggins was credible, Judge Anne Elizabeth Barnes wrote for the three-judge panel.

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