Journal-Times (Grayson, KY)

December 19, 2012

Tackett found guilty of sexual abuse and sodomy

By Leeann Akers - Managing Editor
Journal-Times

Dec. 19, 2012 —   Editor's note: Some readers may find the content of this story to be graphic and offensive.





The trial of a former Olive Hill resident accused of sexually abusing two children concluded Tuesday when General Jackson “Jack” Tackett III, 43, was convicted on five charges of sexually molesting two children over a seven-year period.

The jury spent 6.5 hours in deliberation before finding him guilty of two counts of first-degree sexual abuse and three counts of first-degree sodomy against a male and a female, who were younger than 12 at the time of the incidents.

The jury returned “not guilty” verdicts on a charge of lst degree rape and one count of first-degree sodomy.

The jury recommended Tackett be sentenced to 30 years on each of the sodomy charges and five years on the sexual abuse charges, with the terms to run concurrently, for a total of 30 years.

Under state sentencing guidelines, Tackett will be eligible for parole after he has served 20 years. He will also receive credit for the 18 months he has already spent in custody.

The jury spent 6.5 hours in deliberation before finding him guilty of two counts of first-degree sexual abuse and three counts of first-degree sodomy against a male and a female, who were younger than 12 at the time of the abuse.

Tackett moved to Guatemala and was arrested in June 2011 at a Kentucky State Police traffic stop shortly after he arrived by plane in Huntington.

In the final day of the trial Tuesday, the defense had no witnesses to call and the evidentiary portion of the trial was concluded.

During closing arguments, the defense told the jury that the alleged victims' lack of emotion should show that they were lying about their allegations.

“Before you take Jack’s life, you have to meet the test of beyond reasonable doubt,” defense attorney Adam Bleile told the jury. “Look at the evidence, because there is doubt. We’re asking for a not guilty verdict. Jack didn’t do this. Nothing adds up.”

Commonwealth’s Attorney Gary Conn said that fear kept the victims from making allegations when the abuse occurred.

“There are things that happen in life that we just don’t want to remember,” Conn said. “This case boils down to one thing:  do you believe the witnesses or not? This is a case where Mr. Tackett basically killed their childhood and stole their innocence.”

Testimony began in the case last Thursday.  

The female who made the abuse allegations was the first to take the witness stand Thursday. Now 18, she told the jury of six men and seven women she met Tackett when she was 6.

She alleged Tackett raped her in the kitchen of his home one night when she was visiting one of his children.

“He walked in and told me I wasn’t supposed to be out of the bedroom and that he was going to punish me,” she said. “It felt like being ripped apart.”

She told Commonwealth’s Attorney Gary Conn she had been raped and sodomized by Tackett and was also forced to do sexual acts with the male who also made allegations.

She also claimed not to remember details of some of the incidents.

“It’s hard to remember what happened because it happened so long ago,” she said. “But just because I don’t remember all the details doesn’t mean it isn’t true.”

She said she had waited years to talk about the abuse because she was ashamed and afraid of getting Tackett and the male victim into trouble.

The male victim was the next to take the stand.

Now 20, he alleged Tackett had begun abusing him when he was just five. He told the jury the abuse started with inappropriate touching and escalated to rape and sodomy by the time the alleged victim was seven.

“It happened more than once, and it hurt,” he told the jury. “(Tackett) told me I wasn’t supposed to scream. He said if I screamed, it would get worse, so I never yelled. I never made any noise.”

Conn submitted a drawing the man created during the time he was allegedly being abused. Conn showed the jury the drawing using a projector. It showed a smiling naked man, a frowning naked woman and a monster with male genitalia.

The man testified Tackett had used a much younger child as “bait,” threatening to harm her if he did not comply. He said although he tried to resist Tackett, he was physically unable to do so.

“He (Tackett) would tell me, ‘What are you going to do? How are you going to stop me?’” the man told the jury. “I was afraid to fight him. I was afraid to tell anyone. I am still afraid.”

He testified he had spent years lying to school counselors and psychiatrists because he was afraid to report the abuse.

Dr. Gale Feinburg and Dr. Dreama Hunt, practitioners who volunteer their services at Hope’s Place, testified about medical exams performed on the alleged victims. They concluded both had normal exams, but the passage of time and onset of puberty could have erased signs of sexual abuse.

Jennifer Kelley, a counselor who conducts forensic interviews at Hope’s Place, was the final witness to take the stand on Thursday evening.

She testified that during her interview with both alleged victims the young people were hesitant to talk about allegations of abuse.

Five more witnesses took the stand on Friday.  

The first to testify was Detective Christopher Frazer of the KSP’s Electronic Crime Lab. He testified that an evaluation of three hard drives that belonged to Tackett showed no evidence of criminal activity.

Frazer said he did find files that were rare and what he called “of interest” but was unable to open them. He was also unable to determine the origins or purposes of the files.

Regina Jackson, a counselor at Upper Tygart Elementary School, told the jury she encountered the male victim during her second day at the school. A statement the alleged victim made caused her to become concerned about him.

Jackson said she had kept the drawing introduced the day before for more than a decade because she had concerns. She said she observed him and concluded he was a withdrawn, sad and sometimes angry young man.

The mothers of both victims also testified. Hearsay rules kept the women from telling the jury exactly what their children had said about the abuse, but both said their children have physical and emotional issues that could be linked to the alleged abuse.

The final witness for the prosecution was KSP Detective Chris Carter, the lead investigator in the case.

Carter testified that Tackett, after his arrest, indicated he was a victim of sexual abuse, but that his own abuse had nothing to do with the allegations the two young people had made against him.

During Carter’s testimony, it was revealed that sexual abuse allegations were made against Tackett in 2001 and 2004 but neither investigation led to criminal charges.

One of the allegations concerned an incident that happened in March of 2004 at the Holiday Inn in Grayson which all of the witnesses discussed in one manner or another during testimony on Thursday and Friday.

Defense attorney Adam Bleile made a three-part motion for a directed verdict to Judge Rebecca Phillips before court was adjourned.

Bleile argued that, in relation to the male victim that no new evidence has been presented since the allegations were made in 2004.

Bleile also made the argument that neither of the alleged victims had identified his client as the man who sexually abused them.

He said the female had used the name “General Jackson Tackett,” but did not distinguish if it was Bleile’s client or his client’s father, who goes by the same name.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Conn argued that both victims had clearly identified the younger Tackett as their abuser by his relationship to the male victim. All three parts of the motion were overruled.

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