11/14/08 — Man guilty of sex with girl, 6

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Man guilty of sex with girl, 6

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on November 14, 2008 1:46 PM

William Allen Fritz

With the conviction Thursday of William Allen Fritz on four counts of first-degree sexual offense with a child and four counts of indecent liberties with a child, April Wilkinson and Bobby Ivey are looking forward to closing this chapter in their 7-year-old daughter's life.

"It's very, very heartbreaking," Ms. Wilkinson said. "She's been through a lot.

"But she's doing a lot better now. She's a lot happier now. In the beginning it was very hard."

That beginning, said Wayne County Sheriff's Office Det. Sgt. Tammy Odom, was on Christmas Day nearly a year ago when the couple received a call accusing Fritz of sexual acts with the girl, then age 6.

He was arrested on Feb. 7 on two counts of first-degree sexual offense with a child under 13 years of age and two counts of indecent liberties with a child under 13 years of age. A Wayne County grand jury later added four additional counts.

Ms. Odom said Fritz was arrested based on the girl's testimony.

"She was consistent during every interview that was done with her," Ms. Odom said.

It was a story, she explained, that the girl first told a cousin at a family get-together on Christmas Eve. Then, she continued, that child told an adult and eventually the girl told her mother.

Prosecutor Page Rouse also had physical evidence to work with, including several items seized from Fritz's home that were sent to the State Bureau of Investigation's crime lab for DNA testing.

Ms. Odom explained that most of the sexual acts took place between Dec. 1 and Dec. 24 -- after the girl's maternal grandmother, Connie Wilkinson, had died. Fritz had been her live-in boyfriend, and, the detective said, the illegal acts took place at Fritz's home on Pineview Cemetery Road near Seven Springs.

"He stayed in contact with the family. He was like a grandpa to her. She called him Grandpa Bill," Ms. Odom said.

Fritz will likely be in a prison for the rest of his life. He was sentenced to 57 to 61 years.

He was found guilty Thursday and sentenced by Judge Thomas Haigwood.

The first-degree sexual offense charges are Class B-1 felonies; the indecent liberties charges are Class F felonies.

Fritz also was ordered to pay court costs. He was given credit for time served. He has been held in the Wayne County Jail since his February arrest under a $100,000 bond.

"I'm very satisfied," Ms. Wilkinson said. "Justice has been served. I'm very happy with it. My daughter can move on now."

Especially, added Ms. Odom, now that the trial is over.

"It's justice for the child. It's hard for a child to go to an adult and tell them about a sexual assault, especially when it's another family member, because when that trust is taken away, who can you trust? And they're scared they're going to be in trouble because they're a child," she said. "But this will help. She's doing good, especially now that it's over with and she knows people believed her."

Fritz and his lawyer, Charles Gurley, filed notice of appeal, but Ms. Odom said it was routine.

"That's just normal to send the transcript up there (to the Court of Appeals) and have them take a look at the files," she said.