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Arrest made in decades-old Clearwater rape case

CLEARWATER — A man accused of raping a Clearwater girl in the 1980s was arrested Tuesday after avoiding authorities for more than 20 years.

Michael Woodrow Wilson, 54, was extradited from South Dakota on Monday and booked into the Pinellas County Jail on Tuesday. He faces charges of sexual battery on a child younger than 16 and fondling a child, according to court records.

He was being held in lieu of $50,000 bail Wednesday.

According to court records, Wilson sexually abused the girl between July 1, 1986, and Aug. 31, 1988, while he was living with the girl and her mother at two different homes in Clearwater. The girl would have been between the ages of 9 and 11 during that time.

In the court records, the girl's mother states that Wilson had the opportunity to be alone with the girl when she was at work.

The girl told her mother about the abuse in August 1988 while watching a TV program about child abuse, according to court records. When the mother confronted Wilson, he fled.

A warrant for his arrest was issued Dec. 6, 1989.

Lt. Jay Evenson of the Pennington County Sheriff's Office in South Dakota said his agency received word from authorities in Clearwater last December that Wilson might be living in Pennington County.

Deputies investigated and located a man they believed to be Wilson in Box Elder, a small town outside of Rapid City. He was arrested Dec. 13 and unsuccessfully fought extradition.

According to Wilson's sister Toni Beeson, who lives in Rapid City, Wilson has spent the past 20 years living in Pennington County. He married and has a son.

Beeson said she and other family members believe the girl's accusation was a lie.

"She don't care who she hurts, she just wants her way, period," Beeson said.

She said the girl, who is now 33 years old, is now estranged from the family.

Times researcher Shirl Kennedy contributed to this report.

Arrest made in decades-old Clearwater rape case 03/30/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 30, 2011 7:48pm]
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