Locals Discuss Sheriff's Charges

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Speedwell, Hancock County (WVLT) - Not guilty, that's the plea the Claiborne County Sheriff entered in court Monday.

Sheriff David Ray is charged with one count of statutory rape by an authority figure and two counts of sexual battery by an authority figure.

A grand jury indicted him on the charges stemming from a hunting trip with a 17-year-old girl last year in Hancock County.

Ray's trial is set for August first.

The sheriff made bond in February and remains on the job.

Meanwhile, Claiborne County residents are reacting to Sheriff David Ray still serving there.

Volunteer TV's Kim Bedford spoke with folks in Claiborne County about the situation; many of them seem to have mixed reactions about who's running their county.

Voters elected the former general sessions court judge in August of last year and he was sworn into office in September.

Now Sheriff David Ray is charged with the rape of a teenager, and residents are speaking out.

"This day and age we live in, you know, you never know. I mean, it could be your neighbor," says Barbara Van Buren.

But this time it's Claiborne County sheriff, David Ray, charged with the rape of a 17-year-old during a hunting trip last year.

"Count one and two, not guilty." Ray made bond in February and pleaded not guilty Monday. He continues to serve as sheriff.

"If he done what they say he's done, I don't think he should be in office or running our county," says Brian Center.

Some Claiborne County residents say keeping a rape suspect as their sheriff is just not right.

"It puts a bad image on us, for one. They could find somebody better," Center says.

"I mean, it's going to come out in the wash anyway, but I really think maybe he should take a leave of absence and let somebody else take over till it's all said and done and settled," Van Buren says.

But by law, Ray is allowed to stay in office.

"He is innocent until proven guilty," Nila Lynch says she knows Ray as a good guy. "I say leave him where he's at. He's doing okay. I always felt him to be a nice guy."

While the sheriff may be a nice guy, some say anyone else would be asked to leave their job or they'd step down.

"I think that's just the proper thing they should be doing, and just let somebody else run the town until all the accusations are cleared," Van Buren says.

Many say the truth will come out during Ray's trial, but are worried the sheriff will get special treatment.

"If he did it, I think he should be treated like a normal person, put out of office and put in jail," Center says.

The judge reminded ray today that he's to have no direct or indirect contact with the alleged 17-year-old victim.

Judge John Dugger issued a gag order Monday for everyone involved in the Ray's case, to ensure a clean, fair trial.

So we won't hear from Ray or any attorneys until his trial in August.

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