William Leonard Abbate made his first court appearance Friday in Henry County Magistrate Court. He is charged with aggravated child molestation, child molestation, statutory rape, sexual exploitation of children and enticing a child for indecent purposes.
Henry County Magistrate Court Judge Robert L. Godwin bound the case over to Henry County Superior Court, with a Superior Court bond only. Abbate was represented by attorney Steven Lister.
Abbate, 45, is a professional shooter, who acted as a coach to the alleged victim, and traveled with her and her shooting team to various states, offering instruction, according to Henry County Police Maj. Jason Bolton. Other jurisdictions are also expected to file charges, Bolton said.
Abbate turned himself in at the Henry County Jail, Thursday, after a warrant was issued for his arrest. Police said the charges filed against Abbate stemmed from an investigation they conducted last month, into allegations of sexual misconduct.
“On July 18, a complainant contacted Henry County Police regarding an alleged improper sexual relationship between his 15-year-old daughter and Abbate, who was a family friend, said Maj. Bolton.
According to a warrant in the case: “The defendant engaged in an act of sodomy ... the defendant enticed [the victim] to his bedroom for the purpose of child molestation. The defendant knowingly enticed [the victim] to engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing a visual medium ... said conduct being photograph depicting [a sex act] ... on his cell phone. The defendant engaged in sexual intercourse with [the victim].”
Last year, Abbate was a managing member of Big 5 Enterprises LLC. He and other representatives of the company went before the Henry County Board of Commissioners to request the county’s involvement in transforming six hangars at Tara Field into a money-making movie studio in the Southern Crescent area.
He wanted the commissioners to sign off on revenue bonds that would help him in obtaining financing for a $38 million project designed to make movies. The proposal was contingent on him producing a $15 million line of credit, which did not occur.
In June, Henry commissioners purchased Tara Field from Clayton County. With the purchase, “we rescinded any agreement for that movie studio,” said Henry County Commission Chairman Elizabeth “B. J.” Mathis.