Sentinel-Echo.com

Local News

February 1, 2013

Phelps’ witness changes story

State’s attorney files for dismissal of case

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — There’s no DNA evidence and now there’s no lead witness.

The trial for a former school administrator charged with sex-related crimes set for today (Monday) may be postponed following a motion to dismiss by the Commonwealth’s Attorney.

The motion, filed in the Laurel Circuit Clerk’s office on Thursday, asks for the dismissal of four of the five counts of the indictment against Charles Douglas Phelps, former director of pupil personnel with the Laurel County School System.  Phelps was indicted in January of last year for allegedly exposing a 14-year-old to sexual contact on Nov. 3 and Nov. 5 in 2011. He also allegedly supplied alcohol to the teenager on both occasions. Those charges comprise the first four counts of the indictment.

But the 14-year-old has changed her story, according to Commonwealth’s Attorney Jackie Steele, resulting in his motion for dismissal of the two counts of sexual abuse and two counts of unlawful transaction with a minor.

“I’ve spent a lot of time on this case but there is nothing else I can do,” Steele said. “The witness changed her story and there is no DNA evidence.”

The motion Steele filed on Thursday cited a lack of DNA evidence as well as a transcript of a conversation the witness had with a friend in April of last year. In that conversation, the witness said she had lied about the sexual contact with Phelps.

In his motion to dismiss, Steele wrote: “(The witness) was brought to my office for trial preparation on Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013 and again Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013 at which time she reviewed her previous statements and the phone conversation which had just been provided. At that time, (the witness) identified numerous statements in her prior interviews that were incorrect.”

In another section of the motion, Steele continued: “With the different versions of events... the Commonwealth finds itself with a witness who has a lack of credibility regarding the events that took place....as they pertain to her.

“As such the Commonwealth cannot in good faith ask a jury to convict based upon her statements. It is important to note that there is no tangible evidence, such as DNA, or any other witness that would testify about the events at the time of the alleged events.”

In an interview on Friday, Steele explained: “We did send a shirt off for DNA testing, but there was no DNA on the shirt.”

While Steele said he had spent many hours collecting evidence, preparing documents and interviewing witnesses and alleged victims, he said the 14-year-old could not be held accountable for any legal charges.

“If (the witness) were an adult, you can be sure I would be referring it to a grand jury for falsely reporting an incident,” he said.

Charges against Phelps in which he is accused of exposing a 17-year-old to sexual contact on Nov. 5, 2011 (Count 5) have come under fire as well.

On January 18, Phelps’ attorney, Gary Crabtree, filed a motion to dismiss Count 5, which is now before the Kentucky Supreme Court for review.

The complications with Count 5, which is sexual abuse of a minor under 18 years old, has two phases, Steele said.

“The first issue is that the victim was 17 years old when the sexual contact took place,” Steele said. “The age of consent in Kentucky is 16, so the Supreme Court is looking at that. The second part is whether the sexual contact has a direct relation to (Phelps’) position of authority.”

Although Phelps was the director of pupil personnel at the time, the 17-year-old had not been enrolled in the county school system for nearly two years. This factor could nullify the charge against Phelps.

Steele is now asking the court to hold off for a final decision on this charge from the Kentucky Supreme Court.

Laurel Circuit Judge Tom Jenson will rule for or against Steele’s motion to dismiss on Monday.

Calls to Phelps’ attorney, Crabtree, and Laurel County School System Attorney Larry Bryson for comments were not returned by press time on Friday afternoon.

njohnson@sentinel-echo.com

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Unfit home Deputies remove three children from 'unfit' home in London

    Three Laurel County children were removed from a filthy East Bernstadt home that Laurel County Sheriff’s deputies described  as the worst home they had ever been in.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Porn arrest London man jailed on child porn charges

    Kentucky State Police at Post 11 arrested a London man under pretenses of child exploitation Tuesday.

     

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Firefighters Firefighters honor 2 who gave ultimate sacrifice

    They sacrifice precious family time and sleep time to save the lives and property of people they often don’t even know.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Steele: Much goes into selecting a grand jury

    Long before a case goes to criminal court, it first must go through the many steps of the legal hoops. One such step is being indicted by a grand jury.

    July 21, 2014

  • Rice performs at the public library

    Louisville based singer/songwriter Butch Rice performed his brand of 'acoustic pop and coffeehouse folk music' for a crowd of over 40 people at the Laurel County Public Library on Tuesday afternoon.

    July 21, 2014

  • Addictions come in many forms

    Addiction can be a powerful disease, especially when it comes to young and developing minds. Kentucky's struggles with drug addiction has been well documented, and these struggles can start early in life.

    July 21, 2014

  • Murder case going to grand jury

    The fate of a man charged with the fatal shooting of a Tennessee man earlier this month is now in the hands of a  Laurel grand jury.

    July 21, 2014

  • Triathlon  A test of endurance

    More than 130 triathletes made their way to Laurel River Lake on Saturday to take in the region's scenery in the best possible way: swimming, biking, and running for more than 70 total miles.

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Emergency Triathlete collapses during event

    A Corbin man collapsed while competing in the inaugural Laurel Lake Triathlon on Saturday, prompting emergency workers to make their way out to the scenic event.

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • East Bernstadt BOE raises preschool tuition

    The East Bernstadt Independent Board of Education approved a motion to raise fees for tuition-based preschool students during its monthly meeting Thursday, July 10.

    July 18, 2014

Facebook
AP Video
Judge Ponders Overturning Colo. Gay Marriage Ban Airlines Halt Travel to Israel Amid Violence NYPD Chief Calls for 'use of Force' Retraining VA Nominee McDonald Goes Before Congress Bush: Don't Worry, Sugarland Isn't Breaking Up US Official: Most Migrant Children to Be Removed Police Probing Brooklyn Bridge Flag Switch CDC Head Concerned About a Post-antibiotic Era Raw: First Lady Says `Drink Up' More Water Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law Holder Urges Bipartisanship on Immigration Raw: Truck, Train Crash Leads to Fireball US Airlines Cancel Israel Flights Obama Signs Workforce Training Law Crash Victims' Remains Reach Ukraine-held City Diplomatic Push Intensifies to End War in Gaza Cat Fans Lap Up Feline Film Festival Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die Veteran Creates Job During High Unemployment
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Poll

Now that school is out, what are your family’s summer vacation plans?

A. No major plans. We will probably hang out around Laurel County.
B. Going to the beach!
C. Kentucky has a lot of wonderful state parks, and we plan to visit a few and enjoy quality family time.
     View Results