- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 11, 2017

ATHENS, Ala. (AP) - A former Madison Police Department officer has been sentenced to 35 years in prison for child sexual abuse.

William Watson was convicted in August on six counts of sexual abuse of a child under 12 and four counts of second-degree sexual abuse.

Multiple media outlets report Circuit Judge Robert Baker on Wednesday sentenced the 59-year-old, who once was named Police Officer of the Year. Baker also granted Limestone County District Attorney Brian Jones’ motion to declare Watson a sexually violent predator, meaning he’ll face tougher restrictions, including GPS monitoring for at least 10 years, if he does get out of jail on probation.

Watson had been a patrolman for 13 years when he was placed on leave in August 2012 after his arrest. A female relative reported him for sexual abuse and later, two other girls - ages 12 and 16 - also came forward with allegations.

Watson resigned before the agency could complete an investigation to decide whether to fire Watson.

“We are very pleased with the outcome of this sentencing,” Jones told Al.com . “We think it send a clear message that we will not tolerate this kind of behavior in Limestone County.

“We also hope it gives the victims closure and helps them to move on with the rest of their lives,” Jones continued.

At trial, testimony showed Watson has sexually abused several family members when they were children, according to prosecutors.

“It was like he thought because he clothed and put a roof over their heads that he could do whatever he wanted,” Jones said.

Watson is being held in the Limestone County Jail, pending transfer to a state prison.

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