Journal-Times (Grayson, KY)

November 21, 2012

Roe convicted of sex abuse, cleared of sodomy

By Leeann Akers - Managing Editor
Journal-Times

Nov. 21, 2012 — An Olive Hill man was found guilty Wednesday of one of the sexual crimes for which he had been indicted in Carter Circuit Court.

After six hours of deliberation, a jury of 10 women and two men found Jeffery Wayne Roe, 53, guilty of sexual abuse but not guilty of sodomy.

Roe, 53, was indicted in December 2011 on one count of first-degree sexual abuse and one count of first-degree sodomy against a child under 12 years of age.

During the penalty phase, the victim took the stand. “When I first told about what happened, it felt like everyone was against me,” she told jurors.

The jury recommended five years for Roe’s crime, the maximum sentence. The guilty verdict also means Roe will be required to register as a sex offender. He will be eligible for parole in nine months if he completes the required sex offender treatment program.

Testimony began in the case Friday with the victim being the first to take the stand. The now 14-year-old testified Roe had touched her inappropriately several times when she was between the age of 7 and 10.

She said when Roe offered to buy her a cellphone in exchange for sex on Sept. 29, 2011, she told a friend at school.

School officials alerted social services and the Kentucky State Police. The victim told them about the proposition and the abuse that occurred years before.

Roe was indicted in December 2011 but wasn’t located until Jan. 6, 2012. He was arrested in a camper within site of the home.

State authorities have removed all of the children from the home and Roe’s partner, Debbie Thompson, spent several months in jail for her part in violating a court order that should have kept Roe away from the children and victim.

Along with witnesses from state, Hope’s Place and KSP, Thompson also testified on Friday. She claimed she had no idea Roe was staying in the camper, even though an extension cord that ran from her home was the only source of power to the camper.

Roe took the stand in his own defense when the trial resumed Wednesday. He called the victim a liar and said that he never touched her inappropriately.

Roe claimed no conversation about a cellphone occurred on the night of Sept. 29, as the victim had testified. Roe said on the evening of Sept. 29, 2011, Thompson confronted him about the victim’s allegations and the two adults briefly argued.

Roe said he felt betrayed by the victim’s allegations but denied ever offering her a cellphone for sex or touching her in an inappropriate manner.

When witness testimony was complete, defense attorney James Osborne renewed his motion for a directed verdict on both charges, stating the commonwealth did not prove the case against Roe and that testimony was inconsistent. Judge Rebecca Phillips overruled the motion.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Gary Conn asked that the indictment be amended to conform to proof that was shown. The indictment claimed the crimes in question occurred in 2006 but testimony during the trial indicated both incidents occurred between 2004 and 2005.

During closing arguments, Osborne called the commonwealth’s case “smoke and mirrors.”

“If you look at what Mr. Roe is accused of, you will find that there is nothing there,” Osborne said. “What they have does not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Roe committed these acts.”

Osborne said the victim made the allegations because she was unhappy at home and wanted to live somewhere else, and she also wanted a cellphone.

Conn said it was a difficult task to make a decision about a case that involved sexual crimes but asked the jury to return a guilty verdict.

“When a young girl or a young woman reports this kind of crime, they are the ones who get put on trial,” Conn said. “The crimes that happen privately are the ones that are reported the least. Consider the victim’s motivation to make these allegations compared to Mr. Roe’s motivation to deny them.”

Roe will return to Circuit Court at 3 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 17, for sentencing.

Leeann Akers can be reached at lakers@journal-times.com or by phone at 474-5101.