By John L. Ross, Staff Writer
The former director of pupil personnel for Laurel County Schools appeared in Laurel County Circuit Court Friday with attorney William G. Crabtree.
Charles Douglas Phelps, 53, faces charges involving alleged sexual abuse of two minor children. Phelps received a five-count indictment one year ago Jan. 20 from a Laurel County grand jury.
He may now face trial in February.
Phelps, who is free on bond, said very little during Friday’s court proceedings.
His attorney controlled the floor.
Crabtree explained to Judge Thomas Jensen and Commonwealth Attorney Jackie Steele that the fifth count on the indictment should be separated from the other four counts.
Crabtree said the “alleged victim” in this case was not only between 16 and 18 years old, but also was involved in a “consensual” transaction between herself and Phelps. Because of that, Crabtree reasoned if the fifth count was tried with the other four, it would be “prejudicial.”
Steele explained that due to evidentiary findings, all counts should be tried together. “They can’t be separated,” he said.
Jensen held off in making a decision on the matter Friday.
Crabtree also noted that statements given by the accusers during law enforcement interviews were not completely corroborated with each other.
Two counts of Phelps’ indictment accuse him of first-degree sexual abuse for alleged activity with a 14-year-old on Nov. 3 and Nov. 5 of 2011.
Two other counts charge third-degree unlawful transaction with a minor. Phelps is accused of “knowingly and unlawfully selling, giving, buying or getting alcohol” to that same 14-year-old on the same days of her alleged abuse.
The fifth count — the one in question Friday in Circuit Court — charges first-degree sexual abuse of a 17-year-old on Nov. 5.
Phelps turned himself in Jan. 23, 2012. He was suspended without pay pending the outcome of the charges. His director’s position has since been filled with another person.