Molester receives life in prison

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 15, 2005

A convicted child molester who spent time in Helena has been sentenced to life in prison.

Donald R. Wilbanks, 44, had confessed several months ago to sodomizing a 7-year-old boy during a family gathering. The incident occurred about 10 years ago.

According to the Alabama Department of Public Safety sex offenders website, Wilbanks resided in Montevallo. He was also in the Helena area frequently.

&uot;I’m happy it’s finally over, and the young man can put this behind him,&uot; Helena Police Chief Doug Jones said. &uot;Justice was served.&uot;

Jones first learned of the case nearly five years ago, when he was an investigator. A woman at a convenience store reportedly asked about a complaint she made in 1998, that her son had been sodomized.

He said Wilbanks was an acquaintance with several family members, including the boy.

&uot;The boy at the time was 7 years old, and (Wilbanks) asked him if he wanted to help him look for a friend of his,&uot; Jones said.

Wilbanks apparently forced the child to have sex. The child told family members that night, but they did not take him seriously, according to Assistant District Attorney Angela Dunn.

The child told his mother about the abuse three years later, after watching a program about abuse. That is when she filed a police report.

Jones learned that Wilbanks had been convicted of first-degree sodomy in 1981 in Madison County. He also had an arson conviction and a public lewdness misdemeanor conviction.

Media reports indicate Dunn said it took five years for the complaint to come to trial because of the &uot;clogged judicial system.&uot;

Wilbanks was convicted Feb. 15. As of last week he was still in the Shelby County Jail, Jones said.

– Patrick Johnsto