Claiborne County Sheriff Charged with Rape

By: Gary Loe
By: Gary Loe

Tazewell, Claiborne County (WVLT) - An East Tennessee sheriff indicted on sex crimes remains on the job Tuesday...

Monday, a grand jury indicted Claiborne County Sheriff David Ray on several charges related to an alleged rape of a 17-year-old girl last year.

Sheriff David Ray turned himself in to Hancock County authorities early Tuesday -- that's the county where the alleged sex crimes took place. Tuesday, Sheriff Ray's out on $100,000 bond and continuing in his job to protect and serve residents of Claiborne County.

Sheriff David Ray faces one count of statutory rape, one count of statutory rape by an authority figure, and two counts of sexual battery by an authority figure. Ray's attorney says the sheriff will stay in office.

"Every citizen accused of a crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt to a moral certainty," says Attorney John Rogers.

The indictments allege that in November of 2006, Sheriff Ray raped a 17-year-old girl during a Hancock County hunting trip. Three of the four sex related charges are said to have happened on that trip.

Ray is charged with a 4th count that allegedly happened in November of 2005. County Commissioner Bill Brooks says he's concerned for the families involved, and how the sex crimes case is affecting folks here.

"Some of the commissioners are concerned about asking Mr. Ray to resign, since he has been charged with those kind of charges," Brooks says. "I don't know whether the commission would be in favor of doing that or not, but it's something we got to think about because people are disturbed, and I can understand why," he continues.

The county attorney says the sheriff cannot now be removed from office.

"There's not anything that can be done as far as an ouster or removal, until those charges are resolved in Hancock County," Jim Estep III says.

Voters elected the former general sessions court judge in August. Many residents continue to support Sheriff Ray.

"The feeling is, bringing a sense of true professionalism, it's not so much of a good ol' boy force, as a lot of people have considered it to be," Chris Keser says.

Sheriff Ray will be arraigned in Hancock County court April 2nd. His attorney says Ray will plead not guilty. A trial will then be schedule for August.


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