In a Tuesday morning statement from his office, Madison County Sheriff David Lee Woolfork, 65, admitted that he had an inappropriate, but consensual relationship with Madison County Deputy Sharon Ann Sangster.
“Yes, I admit that I did have an inappropriate relationship with an employee, Sharon Sangster,” Woolfork said in the statement. “It was consensual. I have asked God to forgive me. I have asked my wife and family to forgive me and now I am asking the community to forgive me.”
Woolfork added, “I have worked with law enforcement and with the sheriff’s department for 36 years and I hope everyone will take that into consideration as I move forward with my family and my work.”
The statement was released on the eve of the scheduled Wednesday afternoon hearing on an order of protection Sangster filed against Woolfork on Oct. 11.
Woolfork and Sangster are expected to be in Madison County General Sessions Court, located at 515 S. Liberty St. in Jackson, at 2 p.m. Wednesday to explain to a judge why the judge should or should not issue an order of protection against Woolfork.
According to Sangster’s petition for an order of protection, a temporary order of protection was granted for her on Oct. 11. The petition also stated that the Madison County General Sessions Court found good cause for the petition.
In Tuesday’s statement, Woolfork said Sangster’s allegations are not true.
“I never threatened or touched her as she states,” Woolfork said in the statement. “Her job has never been in jeopardy or been conditioned on any conduct. She was never pressured about anything.”
Woolfork added, “Becoming involved with (Sangster) was a terrible mistake on my part, but the entire relationship was consensual.”
The petition said Woolfork is not able to have a firearm while the temporary order is in effect and will have to give his weapon to someone legally allowed to have it within 48 hours of getting notice about the order. He also not be allowed to buy a firearm until the court says otherwise.
Sangster is asking that the court make the following orders after hearing, if they rule in her favor: that Woolfork have no contact with her, that he stays away from her home, her workplace or anywhere else and that he pays all court costs, lawyer fees and taxes in this case.
Sangster is also asking that Woolfork not cause intentional damage to her property or interfere with the utilities at her home and that he doesn’t hurt or threaten to hurt any animals that she owns or keeps.
According to a news release from the Jackson Police Department, around 8:30 p.m. Oct. 10, Jackson police responded to a disturbance call at 52 Edenwood Drive in Jackson. Officers identified two individuals at the residence being Woolfork and Sharon Sangster.
Police said separate interviews were conducted with both parties. Based upon the interviews, officers determined that it was a domestic abuse related incident.
After an on-scene investigation, officers were unable to determine a primary aggressor as required by the domestic abuse statute. Officers advised Sangster of departmental procedures as they relate to victims of reported domestic abuse.
The Criminal Investigation Division said it has assumed the investigation, which is ongoing. The police department said no further comments can be made at this time.
No charges have been filed against Woolfork.
Sangster, who checked on her petition that she and Woolfork were dating, used to date or have had sex, said Woolfork showed up at her home around 8 or 9 p.m. on Oct. 10. She said she had spoken to him on the phone earlier. When he called back the last couple of times, she said she didn’t answer.
“When he called the third time, he was at my home, bamming at my back door,” Sangster wrote in her petition. “When I answered the phone, he stated ‘Let me in. I’m at your door.’”
Sangster added in her petition, “He stated he wanted to talk about getting back together and making love. I told him I didn’t love him anymore and wanted him to leave.”
Sangster wrote that Woolfork had been drinking and that she knew he had because he told her he had been at some friends’ house earlier. She wrote that Woolfork started grabbing on her, “as if he was going to make me have sex with him.”
Sangster also wrote that while Woolfork went outside, she called Constable Frankie Lax.
“I had always been told that (Lax) was the only one who wouldn’t be bias toward the sheriff,” Sangster wrote in the petition. “The sheriff always told me that I couldn’t ever call JPD or MCSD (Madison County Sheriff’s Department) on him.”
Sangster said when JPD arrived, officers took statements from her and Woolfork and she showed them where Woolfork had grabbed her arm.
“I was so upset after this,” Sangster wrote. “David called in the house and said ‘They are trying to destroy me. Don’t let them do it, baby.’ The deputy instructed me to hang the phone up.”
Sangster ended the petition by writing, “I’m afraid of the fact of what (Woolfork) has told me what could happen to me if I ever tried to hurt him. During the altercation, my nails got broken and my arms bruised.”
In an Oct. 11 statement, Woolfork originally said he believed “that this incident was motivated by political opponents and orchestrated as a beginning attack in the now contested, upcoming election.”
Woolfork added, “Let me say that during this incident at no time did I ever act inappropriately or take any action that could be interpreted as retaliatory. Again, both myself and my department are cooperating with the Jackson Police Department and look forward to a quick resolution.”
According to the sheriff's office website, Woolfork began his law enforcement career in 1972 with the Humboldt Police Department. He began as a dispatcher and was later transferred to the patrol division. In 1977, he became at deputy at the Madison County Sheriff's Office and in five years later, he was promoted to the rank of sergeant.
Woolfork ran for sheriff in 1994 and in 1998 with no opposition. In 2002, he was elected to a third term and in 2006 to a fourth term. His re-election in 2010 marked a fifth and historic term, making him the longest serving Madison County sheriff, according to the website.