The Pitt County NAACP believes there's a conspiracy that led to the arrest of a local attorney who took a stand with the NAACP this week over a possible child rape case.
Greenville attorney David Sutton was arrested Wednesday, the same day he and the group held a press conference about the rape and accused the Pitt County Sheriff's Office of an "incompetent" investigation.
The NAACP is standing behind Sutton who was in court Friday. Sutton has representation of his own now because he is charged with intimidating a state witness in a child abuse case. The witness is a detective at the sheriff's office. Sutton was charged with witness intimidation after he left this voicemail for the detective.
"I understand that you know more than the kids doctor and DSS worker that it wasn't abuse, so I ain't going to beat around the bush. I don't know what you're doing. Obviously you don't know what the (expletive) you're doing, so I'm just going to whoop your (expletive) real bad next week unless you get your (expletive) down there and get this case dismissed. Now do your job and have some sense."
That recording landed Sutton in jail Wednesday and then in court Friday morning. Sutton made the call Wednesday afternoon to Pitt County deputy Nicki Dolenti asking her to drop his client's charges on allegations of child abuse. That recording is what the county says is intimidation of a state witness.
"The statement itself has nothing to do with that, and if you listen, it clearly references to court because court is next week and the statement clearly says next week," said Sutton's attorney Matthew Jackson.
Jackson says this arrest came after Sutton met with the NAACP criticizing the way the sheriff's office handled an allegation of the rape of a 7-year-old girl at Pactolus Elementary School. The sheriff's office has looked into the case since June 4th with no arrest. Pitt County NAACP President Calvin Henderson says there's a link to Sutton's arrest and his affiliation with them.
"We thoroughly feel it's retaliation and Sheriff Elks should be ashamed. Sheriff Elks should be ashamed today to allow his officer to use this type of approach," said Henderson.
Sheriff Neil Elks quickly defended their reason for why they arrested Sutton, saying his office doesn't take threats of any kind lightly.
"I have been an officer for 30 years and I've never had a lawyer in Pitt County talk to me that way," said Pitt County Sheriff Neil Elks.
Sheriff Elks is adamant about Sutton's arrest having nothing to do Sutton standing with the NAACP at their Wednesday press conference.
"That decision was made unbeknownst of a press conference," said Elks.
Captain Paula Dance, who investigated the child rape report, set the record straight about their investigation.
"I can assure you everything we could do in this case has been done," said Captain Dance.
She says the NAACP's involvement in the Pactolus case is unwarranted.
"I will plainly say the NAACP is incorrect in their investigation.Our reputation speaks for itself and maybe theirs should too," said Dance.
Henderson says with both the rape case and Sutton's arrest, this is all about race and is unfair to Sutton who is trying to help the NAACP fight for the justice of a little girl.
Judge Brian Desoto told Sutton in court today that if he's found guilty he will face a maximum of just over 4 years in jail. Hi next court appearance is July 18th.
The local chapter of the NAACP says the arrest of attorney David Sutton all comes down to race.
The Greenville attorney was arrested Wednesday and charged with intimidating a witness.
The sheriff's office says the charge stems from a voice message Sutton left for a detective where he is heard saying he'll "Whoop her (expletive)" if child abuse charges aren't dropped against a client of his.
The arrest came the same day Sutton and the NAACP held a news conference on behalf of a family who says their 7-year-old daughter was raped at Pactolus Elementary School and that the sheriff's office has not properly investigated what happened.
Friday morning the Pitt County chapter of the NAACP issued the following press release about Sutton's arrest:
Calvin Henderson, Pres
Pitt County Branch NAACP
July 5, 2013
For over 104 years the NAACP has fought to secure the civil rights of all Americans. Today, the NAACP continues to combat racism and discrimination against African –Americans, Latinos and Asian Americans. Of particular concern is the disastrous effects such conduct within the criminal justice system has had upon African – American youth.
The Constitution of the State of North Carolina has guaranteed every child a well round, quality, education in a safe and secured environment. What happen to this guarantee several weeks ago at Pactolus School, where it has been alleged that a 7 year old African American female child was sexually assaulted? Why have the justice system, the public school system, the public school elected board, and even the community turned deaf ears to the cry of this child and her family?
There is always an out-cry in the community when there are charges of child molestation, child phonography and other acts of sexual violent on our children. Why has there been so many discrepancies, lack of a thorough investigation, and angry attacks from law enforcement on those who are showing concern for this child and her family in this case?
Why did Pitt County Sheriff Dept wait until Attorney David Sutton appear in a press conference with the NAACP and the African American Family to make felony charges and a arrest? How many other time has the statement he made been made in conversations in courtrooms, political campaigns, sports events and many others event and no charges ever brought?
We know that race is the main determinant of treatment in our society and in the criminal justice system – it determines the frequency of arrest, the gravity of the charge, treatment at trial, and severity of punishment. We feel that had Attorney David Sutton not taken a stand to offer his service to the under served and the African American community his arrest would have never taken place. This total case has come down to “Race”.
Where is Sheriff Neil Elks and why is he refusing to communicate with the community?
End NAACP press release.