Woodward reaches plea agreement


SUBLETTE COUNTY – A Marbleton man, charged with taking immoral and immodest liberties with a girl younger than 17, will not face a jury on May 10.

Donald K. Woodward was charged in July 2020 with felony third-degree sexual abuse of a minor and pleaded not guilty on Dec. 3 in 9th District Court.

The girl is from another county and visited Woodward, a family friend, to celebrate her birthday, according to court records.

Sublette County Detective Travis Lanning’s affidavit said the girl was “very adamant about coming home” and said Woodward had showed her his genital area and showered with her. Woodward did not touch her but she was upset and felt sick and told her parents, it says.

A Feb. 24 witness competency hearing for the girl turned into a status conference among 9th District Judge Marv Tyler, Sublette County Deputy Attorney Clayton Melinkovich and Woodward’s private attorney Geoffrey Phillips.

The plea agreement filed Feb. 16 says that Woodward will plead guilty to the charge with a recommended sentence of five years of supervised probation and no contact with minor children except for family.

He will change his plea before Judge Tyler on March 10 at 10:30 a.m.

When he was charged, Woodward was 75. Since then he was stricken badly with COVID-19 and required surgeries after a broken hip and a fall injuring his head, records show. His attorney had requested continuances of several months before Woodward was considered able to appear for his arraignment.

The maximum penalty for third-degree sexual abuse of a minor is 15 years in prison, a $10,000 fine or both.