Capital High student pleads guilty to sexual abuse charge

By Kate White, Staff writer

A Capital High School student told a judge Tuesday that he forced a 15-year-old female student to have sex with him in the school earlier this year.

Dallas King, 17, pleaded guilty Tuesday to first-degree sexual abuse, a felony. He faces between 1 and 5 years in jail when he’s sentenced. The sentencing is scheduled for April 13.

King told Kanawha Circuit Judge Jennifer Bailey that he forced the 15-year-old girl, with whom he had a previous sexual relationship, to have sex with him at the school on Jan. 26.

“That day she did not want to have sex with me and I did force her to have sex with me,” King told the judge.

King was originally charged as a juvenile with second-degree sexual assault, a more serious charge. As part of a plea deal, he agreed to be transferred to adult status and to plead guilty to the sexual abuse charge.

The decision to offer King the lesser charge was made partly to avoid a trial, Kanawha Prosecuting Attorney Charles Miller said after the hearing.

“We take into account the victim herself. It does bring a measure of closure — and she doesn’t have to go through the ordeal of a trial,” Miller said. The 15-year-old girl sat in the courtroom Tuesday.

The girl told a counselor at the school about the incident the day it happened. Former Capital High Principal Clinton Giles faces a misdemeanor charge for failing to immediately report the assault. Prosecutors say he waited until the next day and jeopardized the case against King.

Giles has a hearing scheduled for Wednesday; Miller said Monday that if Kanawha Circuit Judge Carrie Webster doesn’t dismiss the case against Giles, he’s not sure prosecutors will proceed with it, because of a law that awaits the governor’s signature that clarifies sexual assault-reporting requirements. After the bill was introduced, Giles’ attorney argued that the need for the bill showed that the reporting requirements wouldn’t mandate that Giles immediately report the rape of one student by another. Prosecutors have said they don’t object to that claim.

According to the charge against Giles, the principal was aware of another sexual assault allegation against King, on Feb. 14, 2014. Giles did report that incident to police, prosecutors have said, but King was never charged.

King has been suspended from school. He is a basketball and football player at Capital, according to previous Gazette reports.

In accordance with the plea agreement, prosecutors will stand silent during King’s sentencing and not argue for a specific jail term. After King turns 18 on June 15, he will again go before the judge to have his sentence reviewed.

In addition to waiving his case to adult status, King agreed to plead guilty by way of information, meaning the case wasn’t presented before a grand jury for a possible indictment.

Miller said after Tuesday’s hearing that because King pleaded guilty as an adult to the sexual abuse charge, he will have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life. If he was convicted of the offense as a juvenile, he wouldn’t have had to register as a sex offender and the felony could have later been expunged from his criminal record, the prosecutor said.

King, who wore a button-up shirt with a gray tie and kept his hands folded behind his back for most of Tuesday’s hearing, sat in between his attorneys, Trent Redman and Michael Payne. They didn’t want to comment after the hearing. .

“Yes, your honor,” King told the judge when asked if he wanted her to accept his written plea of guilty. King and his attorneys had signed the plea agreement last week.

King’s mother, Patricia, sat behind him with their pastor, Rev. Matthew Watts of Grace Bible Church.

Bailey said she would allow him to remain free on $100,000 bail while awaiting sentencing. First assistant prosecutor Don Morris didn’t object, but asked that the judge reiterate one of the bond conditions, which prevents King from contacting the victim.

“If I get any wind that there’s any attempt to contact, directly or indirectly, I can revoke the bond,” the judge said.

Reach Kate White at kate.white@wvgazette.com, 304-348-1723 or follow @KateLWhite on Twitter.