DOBSON — A Pilot Mountain man, who was already a registered sex offender, was ordered to serve six to 12 years in prison after pleading guilty to sex crimes involving a juvenile victim late Friday in Surry County Superior Court.
William Keith Roberts, 61, of N.C. 268, pleaded guilty by Alford decision to two counts of solicitation to commit statutory sexual offense, which is a class C felony.
Through a plea agreement, the charges were reduced from two counts of first-degree sexual offense against a child, a class B1 felony.
Roberts’s arrest in November 2012 occurred after Mount Airy Police Department officers responded to to Bonnie Lou’s Flea Market on Carter Street in reference to a possible sexual assault involving a juvenile victim and investigated the alleged incident.
The case had been scheduled for a trial beginning Monday.
On Friday, Senior Resident Superior Court Judge A. Moses Massey heard six pre-trial motions brought by the defense represented by Dobson attorney Karen Adams.
Granting one motion that the matters be fully recorded, Massey fairly swiftly denied three of the motions after hearing testimony and arguments for each.
Those motions involved excluding or suppressing evidence.
The judge also denied a motion to dismiss based on the loss or destruction of exculpatory evidence.
At one point during arguments fort that motion Massey stated to Adams, “I really question the judicial efficacy about hearing all this about a negative,” meaning that the evidence in question had no positive indicators that would exculpate the defendant, only lacked incriminating evidence.
Massey did take under advisement one motion in limine, which is to prevent certain evidence from being presented in court. In this case it was whether the jury would be allowed to hear testimony regarding Roberts’ criminal history.
The state sexual offender registry of the N.C. Department of Justice lists Roberts due to previous convictions on four counts of sexual battery. Those involved incidents in Forsyth County in 2007, 2010 and 2011, registry information shows.
Forsyth County authorities arrested Roberts in July 2011 for allegedly taking indecent liberties with children who came to Wake Forest Baptist Health for outpatient diagnostic procedures at an imaging facility, based on earlier media reports and testimony heard Friday.
Roberts is a former registered nurse at the hospital who later was fired, convicted of the sexual battery charges in March 2012 and placed on probation, court records show.
The juvenile victim’s mother was present in court Friday throughout the proceedings.
Late afternoon, Massey announced he would rule on the remaining motion on Monday morning, the officers of the court began discussing when the jury should be called in Monday.
Roberts and Adams retreated from the courtroom to confer, and the defendant eventually signed a plea agreement that had been previously extended.
At about 3:45 p.m., Roberts entered his plea. When Massey asked, among other required questions, if the defendant believed entering the guilty plea was in his best interests Roberts replied, “Yes sir, that’s the only reason.”
The juvenile victim had arrived in the courtroom shortly after the plea hearing began.
In light of the extensive testimony that had been presented that day, the state related a brief factual basis for the plea, which amounted to that between October 28, 2012 and November 3, 2012 there was inappropriate sexual contact between the defendant and victim including fellatio and sodomy.
Massey sentenced Roberts to 73 to 148 months in prison minus credit for time served, which wasn’t available in court documents by the end of the day Friday.
He was ordered to register as a sex offender with recidivist status for the rest of his natural life, and to be subject to satellite monitoring upon his release from prison for the rest of his natural life.
When asked why her client decided to plea, Adams said, “I think it was the combination of evidence against him, his prior record and we lost all of our motions.”
She said, “I think he was given a fair plea offer.”
Assistant District Attorney Mark Miller, who handled the motions and the plea f0r the state, said, “We are satisfied with the outcome,” noting that the victim’s family had been consulted prior to extending the offer to Roberts. “Everybody’s satisfied.”
The victim’s mother declined to comment except to say, seeming pleased, “Wonderful court system.”
Reach Terri Flagg at 415-4734.