Registered sex offender held in contempt, jailed

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 1, 2009

By Mark Wineka
District Court Judge Charlie Brown found a registered sex offender in contempt Friday when the man refused the intensive probation Brown had ordered for him the day before.
“I have not done anything wrong,” 40-year-old Ricky Jo Asbury of Kannapolis said in open court Friday. “This nation is a mess because of this type of judgment.”
On Thursday, Brown found Asbury guilty of disorderly conduct and second-degree trespass in connection to Asbury’s refusing to leave the premises of Blackwelder Park Baptist Church on a Sunday morning in August.
Brown sentenced Asbury to 45 days suspended for the disorderly conduct and 15 days suspended for the second-degree trespass. Asbury also was ordered to pay $911 in court costs, attorney fees, fines and community service fees.
As part of the suspended sentences, Brown stipulated that Asbury be subject to 24 months supervised probation and 12 months intensive supervision, which would include conditions such as a curfew determined by his probation officer.
Asbury also was ordered to stay away from Blackwelder Baptist Church, located on Summit Avenue in Kannapolis.
Brown received a note in court later Thursday that Asbury had refused the special probation conditions the judge had outlined, leading to Asbury’s appearance in court Friday and the subsequent contempt conviction, which carried a 30-day sentence.
Because Asbury refused probation, his suspended sentences were activated. He will now spend the next 88 days (he received two days credit) in a State Department of Corrections facility to which he was transferred Friday afternoon.
Brown also ordered that the Department of Corrections conduct a risk assessment and make an initial determination whether Asbury must enroll in a GPS sex offender monitoring program for life.
Things actually could have been much worse for Asbury, who missed being subjected to tougher sex offender laws that went into effect in December as part of the N.C. Sex Offender and Public Protection Registration Program.
Had the incident at Blackwelder Park Baptist Church occurred about five months later, Asbury could have faced a Class H felony charge.
The law prohibits sex offenders from being on the premises of any place “intended primarily for the use, care or supervision of minors, including, but not limited to, schools, children’s museums, child care centers, nurseries and playgrounds.”
It also prohibits sex offenders from being within 300 feet of similar places that are located in malls and shopping centers “or other property open to the general public; and any place where minors gather for regularly scheduled educational, recreational or social programs.”
A supervised Sunday School class for young children ó the kind that Asbury tried to attend Aug. 3 at Blackwelder Park Baptist Church ó would fall under the revised law.
Court testimony Thursday revealed that Asbury had shown up for Sunday services at the church during the first Sunday in July. Following customary procedures, he filled out a visitor’s card and, when he attended a second Sunday service the next week, the church gave him a more formal welcoming.
By the third Sunday, Asbury attended a Sunday School class for young, college-age adults. His behavior in the class led some of the participants to mention their concerns to church officials.
The church performed a background check on Asbury and discovered he was a registered sex offender.
State records show that he had been convicted previously on four counts of taking indecent liberties with a minor dating back to 1995 in Stanly and Cabarrus counties. His sentence related to the first conviction started in April 2000, and he remained in state custody until his release March 29, 2007.
The church leaders called Asbury in for a meeting on a Wednesday and informed him that they knew of his criminal record.
Testimony indicated that the church said he was welcome to keep attending Sunday services, but he would be banned from the third floor of the educational building, where classes and programs for children and young adults are held.
The church officials clearly stated he would not be allowed to be around children, according to testimony.
On the morning of Aug. 3, a Sunday, Asbury showed up on the third floor where a class for approximately 25 children would be held.
He refused to leave at the church’s request, and Kannapolis Police were called to the church building, leading to the charges of disorderly conduct and second-degree trespass.
Asbury contested the church’s right to remove him. In court, he quoted from Scripture and accused the church of not being Christian.
When Brown found him guilty Thursday, he followed a sentencing grid that limited his sentencing options to the suspended sentences with probation ó no active sentence.
Brown soon learned that Asbury was refusing the intensive probation that he had ordered, leading to the contempt proceeding and active time.