TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY

October 21, 2013

Phelps faces new indictments

Former school administrator charged with witness tampering


The Times-Tribune

CORBIN — By John L. Ross / Staff Writer

The former director of pupil personnel for Laurel County Schools appeared handcuffed and shackled in Laurel Circuit Court Friday for a scheduled status hearing.

Charles Douglas Phelps, 54, faces charges of first-degree sexual abuse after allegedly exposing a 17-year-old female victim to sexual contact.

However — he now faces a pair of new charges.

Phelps was facing several charges earlier this year involving allegations of sexual contact with the 17 year old and a 14-year-old victim — however, in February, the Commonwealth Attorney’s office learned the 14-year-old’s statements were “inaccurate” and “inconsistent,” which forced the office to request those charges be dismissed.

And they were.

However, the fifth count involving the 17-year-old remained active until an Oct. 8 trial date was scheduled.

But on that date, the 17-year-old failed to show for court, records indicate, and an arrest warrant for her was issued by Judge Tom Jensen.

The court was then forced to reschedule that trial — it’s now slated for Dec. 2.

Also at that Oct. 8 court appearance it was learned Phelps allegedly contacted one of the victims more than 500 times — which left Jensen to remind Phelps and his attorneys about the no-contact conditions placed on him by the court.

At that time Phelps was on home incarceration, records show.

However, Phelps was arrested by the London Police Department the next day and jailed in the Laurel County Correctional Center.

On Friday, he was indicted on the new charges.

The first count charges Phelps with tampering with a witness after he allegedly induced or attempted to induce the witness against him in the case to absent herself and avoid appearing and testifying against him at the trial. The second count indicts him for bribing a witness after he allegedly offered to pay and paid the same victim a sum of money to influence her testimony in the trial against him.

Flanked by his attorneys Conrad Cessna and Gary Crabtree, Phelps appeared before Jensen Friday.

Crabtree waived formal arraignment on these charges and entered a not guilty plea on Phelps’ behalf. Assistant Commonwealth Attorney Terry Beckner wanted to go ahead and schedule a pretrial conference for Nov. 15 for the new charges.

Crabtree asked a status hearing be scheduled.

From that discussion, Jensen scheduled a status hearing for Nov. 15.

But other issues were brought before the court.

Beckner requested that because of the alleged “direct action” by Phelps, that Phelps be jailed without bond.

“Judge, we object to that request,” Crabtree said, adding that this defendant has the right to a reasonable bond, and wanted his bond “to be the same conditions …imposed on the last case.”

Crabtree further requested Phelps continue the home monitoring, adding that “his brothers offered to have custody of him.”

“That fully secures his obligations,” Crabtree said.

But Beckner disagreed with that. “The order (had) not even been prepared before he committed these offenses,” Beckner argued. “(And he) was specifically ordered (to not have victim contact).”

Jensen elected to take the situation “under submission” to further “review matters.”

Phelps was remanded back into the custody of the Laurel County Correctional Center, where he remains.