State-employed counselor coerced mothers into sex; county failed to detect fraudulent credentials

December 9, 2011

In a Jefferson County courtroom , it took 59-year-old Larry Chapman less than 20 minutes to plead guilty to coercing two mothers under his care into having sex. 

Jefferson County prosecutors say in 2008, 2009, and 2010, the Alabama Department of Human Resources assigned Chapman to counsel two women in their homes.

In those sessions, Chapman was accused of telling the mothers he would write a good report or help them keep their children if they engaged in sexual relations with him.

Thursday, Chapman stood before Jefferson County Circuit Judge Tommy Nail.  "Is that what you did, Mr. Chapman?" Nail asked. After pausing a few seconds, Chapman replied, "Yes sir."    

Afterwards, Courtney French, the attorney for one of the women responded Chapman's plea.  "In this case, he used their children as pawns," French said.

One of two victims in the case were in court Thursday.  She hired a private investigator to come into her home and film a session with Chapman.  But that video was not presented in court.  

Chapman was originally charged with felony rape and sodomy charges.   But to get a guilty verdict, prosecutors would have had to prove Chapman threatened to kill or seriously injure the women if they didn't comply.

"I think if you ask most mothers or parents, they'll say using their child is just like using a weapon," French argued.  But as a result of the law, prosecutors offered Chapman a plea deal on the lesser charges of sexual misconduct.  

As a result of his guilty plea, Nail sentenced Chapman to 12 months in the Jefferson County Jail and 24 months probation. He'll also have to register as a sex offender on a quarterly basis.   "I think it's some sense of justice for the ladies involved."

The two women in this case have also filed a civil lawsuit against Chapman as well as against DHR. In that case, the plaintiffs say DHR, which had a contract with Chapman, did not do proper background checks on his business.

"This company he set up was a bogus company. He had a bogus license. All his credentials he presented to counsel these women were a fraud," French says.  He also says there were other women who complained to the agency about Chapman committing inappropriate behavior, but says those complaints fell on "deaf ears". 

"He's counseled hundreds of women," French said.  "And I'm sure other than the ladies who have come forward with their case who will hopefully come forward if they have been harmed by this man."

FOX6 tried speaking with Larry Chapman as he departed the courtroom.  He had no comment.   "I think the agreement is what it was," said Chapman's attorney, Bill Dawson.  "It seemed to be a fair resolution."

Source: Melanie Posey, "Former counselor pleads guilty to coercing mothers into sex," WBRC FOX-6 (Birmingham, AL), December 8, 2011.


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