BEDFORD — A former county fire and rescue employee was found guilty of soliciting a minor for sex Tuesday after pleading no contest to two charges.
Larry Scott Hawkins, 53, was previously charged with six counts of soliciting a minor for sex via an electronic device and one count of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Bedford County Chief Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Stacey Stickney changed the contributing to the delinquency of a minor charge to an assault and battery charge, and dropped all but one solicitation charge on Tuesday.
The solicitation charges she dropped would’ve each required a year of mandatory minimum time for Hawkins, since they would’ve been considered second or subsequent offenses.
A 17-year-old girl told law enforcement Hawkins made inappropriate sexual contact with her at a fire and rescue facility on Feb. 10, 2018, Stickney said in court. That contact was captured on surveillance camera footage at the Stewartsville Rescue Squad building, according to search warrants in the case.
Hawkins admitted to touching her inappropriately in interviews with law enforcement, the warrants state.
That victim told law enforcement about another 17-year-old girl Hawkins had been making sexual contact with, according to Stickney and warrants in the case.
When investigators talked to the second victim, she said she’d met Hawkins while he was working as a paramedic at the Bedford County Fair in October 2017 and the two had sexual conversations over the internet, including him sending her inappropriate photos of himself.
Stickney later said Hawkins told the second victim to delete their messages.
Hawkins, who was assistant chief of the Montvale Volunteer Fire Company and a full-time Bedford County Fire & Rescue staff member, was arrested Feb. 14. Carl Boggess, Bedford County administrator at the time, said Hawkins was put on unpaid administrative leave after county officials became aware of the first victim’s complaint and was terminated when he bonded out of jail weeks later.
Dirk Padgett, Hawkins’ defense attorney, said he would’ve contested whether his client knew the second victim was under age 18 if the case had gone to trial. He said that victim had complained to Hawkins that she wasn’t being treated like an adult, her date of birth on Facebook would’ve indicated she was 22 at the time and she mentioned she was taking college courses.
Hawkins is scheduled to be sentenced on May 31, but that won’t be the end of his involvement in Bedford County Circuit Court.
One of the victims filed a suit against him in civil court in January as “Jane Doe.” The suit states she was volunteering to be an EMT in Huddleston and was required to receive training and attend ride-alongs with Hawkins in early 2018.
Her suit claims Hawkins “used physical force and threats” against the girl and sexually assaulted her while he was training her on Feb. 10. It also states Hawkins solicited her for sex over Facebook messages on a few different occasions as early as a month before his contact with her on Feb. 10.
The woman, now an adult, has demanded $10 million “for compensatory and punitive damages,” along with other legal costs and fees, from Hawkins.
Hawkins hasn’t yet filed a response to the lawsuit. He remains out of jail on bond leading up to his sentencing hearing.