A state Corrections Officer who works at the Baker Correctional Institution is facing a felony charge of lewd and lascivious behavior against a 15-year-old girl.
The Baker County Sheriff’s Office began investigating in January, when the victim told her mother she was pregnant. The girl initially said she had missed her bus after school and was waiting out front when someone she didn’t know drove up an offered her a ride. She says while driving her home, the man started talking about sex with her, eventually pulling off to the side of the road and engaging in what she called consensual sex.
She says the man dropped her off, and they never spoke or saw each other again.
“We absolutely did not believe that,” says Baker County Sheriff Joey Dobson.
Dobson says they began to suspect 30-year-old John Wesley Padgett- who identifies the victim as his cousin- but didn’t have enough information to pursue charges. That changed this week, when the teen’s mother came forward.
Dobson says Padgett and the victim told Padgett’s wife what had happened, who in turn told the victim’s mother, Cynthia Sweat. Sweat came in to the Sheriff’s Office for a “controlled call” with Padgett, meaning he was being monitored by law enforcement without knowing.
The arrest report I’ve obtained shows during that phone call, Padgett admitted to having sex with the teen, but couldn’t explain why when Sweat asked him what he was thinking.
“I really truthfully don’t know. I can’t answer that. I wouldn’t thinking at all. I’m telling you, I don’t know what in the world. I’m, I don’t know. I don’t know how to answer.” Padgett replied, according to the report.
He further told Sweat it was a “mutual thing” which started late one evening when Sweat and her daughter were staying in Padgett’s home.
“We started, ya know, like wrestling and all, like playing around and that we got real close, face to face and I don’t know,” Padgett said, according to the report.
The report further said that while Padgett didn’t want to play the “daddy role”, he intended to support the baby, which is due May 1.
With this information, Dobson says they arrested Padgett.
“He initially did, in fact, deny that he had had any kind of relationship with the girl,” Dobson says.
Padgett has told investigators he did not have inappropriate relations with the teen and was not the father of her child. Investigators intend to get a DNA sample from the baby when it’s born to determine paternity.
Padgett has made his first appearance in court and was given a $250,000 bond.