SANTA ROSA COUNTY, Fla. (WKRG) — A jury found a Tennessee man guilty of two counts of sexual battery that occurred over several years in Santa Rosa, according to Ginger Bowden Madden, State Attorney for the First Judicial Circuit of Florida.
Throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s, Thomas Richard Lawlis, 60, of Sevierville, Tennessee, sexually abused his victim, who was between ages 6 and 11, monthly, according to a news release from the circuit. In 2016, the abuse was reported to the Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office.
Lawlis was designated as a sexual offender in 1998. Since then, he was charged with failing to register as a sex offender, according to a Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office record.
He was charged with two counts of sexual battery on a victim less than age 12 by a defendant over 18, according to Florida Statutes.
The Honorable Clifton Drake sentenced Lawlis to life behind bars in the Department of Corrections.
The SRCSO conducted the investigation; Assistant State Attorney Kari Garrett prosecuted the case.