Former Navy chaplain charged in relative's rape

A 42-year-old former Navy chaplain has been charged in the rape of a minor female relative, according to the Office of the District Attorney for the Sixteenth Circuit Court in Gadsden. The victim was 15 years old when the incidents occurred.

Wednesday, William C. Hammond was sentenced to 40 years in the state penitentiary for charges of first degree rape, 20 years each on the charges or second degree rape and sodomy, 10 years for first degree sexual abuse and one year for second degree sexual abuse.

An Etowah County jury convicted Hammond on February 14, 2011. During the trial, the victim testified that shortly after Hammond and his family moved to Southside, Ala., he "forced her to engage in acts of sexual contact, sexual intercourse, and deviate sexual intercourse," according to a release. Another of Hammond's relatives later testified that Hammond had raped her when she was 14.

When Judge David Kimberley pronounced the sentence, he addressed the defendant's former role in the military. He said that the acts committed while Hammond was actively serving the country "bring greater discredit and dishonor and I believe enhance the gravity of...a betrayal of our standards and ideals of what it means to be in a position of influence over a child, and what it means to be a family member in a position of trust."

Kimberly said the sentences are meant to show the community "that such conduct will not be tolerated in an orderly society, a society that values family, to be quite frank with you, and the assurances of security and protection of well-being that is supposed to bring with it."

The attorney who prosecuted the case, Carol Griffith, expressed her thankfulness for the sentencing and the courage of the victim to step forward.

"Cases of this nature are always hard on a victim, particularly when the defendant is a member of the family, but she has shown amazing strength throughout the case.  Also, having another cousin who had been victimized by the same man, and was willing to come and tell her story after many years, shows the kind of strength that the entire family has, despite the crimes committed by this defendant," Griffith said.

The Southside Police Department and the James M. Barrie Center for Children assisted with the investigation of the case.

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