Albany resident Shawn Baxley’s Facebook page, which last year portrayed a happy family man, is no longer in the public domain.
Neither is Baxley, who was a Sherwood Christian School Bible studies teacher when he was charged last year with sexual battery and child molestation.
After reaching a plea agreement with the Dougherty district attorney’s office with his victim’s family’s consent, Baxley was sentenced Tuesday by Chief Superior Court Judge Willie Lockette to spend two years in prison. Baxley also was sentenced to 18 months probation; he must surrender his teaching license and register as a sexual offender; and he is banished from Dougherty and surrounding counties.
A female student’s complaint last year led Dougherty County sheriff’s officials to quickly investigate and then arrest Baxter, 36, for an alleged 2008 incident at Baxter’s home in the 2200 block of Whispering Pines Road.
The crime occurred when the student was 13, police said.
In his plea, Baxley did not admit guilt. Still, Baxley apologized Tuesday to the victim and his family.
Prosecutors, meanwhile, had sought a much longer sentence.
“Particularly with child molestation, the court has to go through a list of things and considerations in order to not impose the mandatory minimum sentence, which is the reason Tuesday’s hearing.” District Attorney Greg Edwards said. “I’m sure the court must have made some finding in its determination that there grounds wherein the mandatory minimum would not be (enforced). The defense wanted to show why he (Baxley) should not get the mandatory minimum town that the state was asking to be imposed.”
Baxter, who also taught geometry and algebra at Sherwood and was a junior varsity track coach, is a father-of-five who says he has worked in youth minister since he was 18. He graduated with a math degree from Troy University in 1997. He taught and coached at Geneva County High School in Hartford, Ala., for several years before moving to Louisville, Ky., to attend seminary.
Baxter graduated from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2005 with a master’s degree in Christian education. He served for two years as associate pastor of Eastside Baptist Church in Cairo before taking the Troy job. Previously, he also served as a part-time youth minister in Greenville, Ala., and Dothan, Ala.
“I have a desire to see teenagers be wholly devoted to Christ,” Baxter said in a Sherwood school newsletter. “God uses teenagers to do amazing things, and I am excited about how God is going to use the teenagers at SCA. God has shown me so much about myself and His amazing work through the life of teenagers. I have loved being involved in youth ministry, and now I feel like God has merged my two joys of teaching and ministering to students together. I rejoice and have a sense of humility to be a part of the staff here at SCA.”