Rowan man faces multiple sex charges
By Jessie Burchette
A Rowan County man is in the the Iredell County Jail on multiple counts of sex offenses and rape of children.
Officials say the acts occurred nearly 30 years ago.
William Ronnie Barnett, 50, of 250 Court Lane, Mooresville, is being held under $1 million bond.
Iredell officials say that he faces many additional charges in West Virginia.
The investigation that led to the charges started over a year ago with the Rowan Sheriff’s Office.
Capt. John Sifford said Rowan investigators became involved in May 2008 when a a 4-year-old girl was taken to the Dove House Child Advocacy Center in Mooresville.
The staff concluded the girl had been molested and the Sheriff’s Office was notified.
Sifford said Thursday that Detective Greg Hannold began a monthlong investigation and it resulted in Barnett being charged with taking indecent liberties with a child.
But during the investigation, Hannold turned up additional people in Iredell County and in West Virginia who said they had been molested or sexually attacked when they were children. All were pre-teens at the time.
The information related to the Iredell cases was turned over to the Iredell Sheriff’s Department, Sifford said.
That department undertook a four month investigation according to Sheriff Phil Redmond.
On Monday, Rowan and Iredell deputies went to Barnett’s home on Court Lane (off Unity Church Road) and arrested him.
Iredell Detective Sgt. Bill Hamby of the Special Victim’s Unit said he conducted interviews with the three Iredell victims and witnesses.
Hamby also traveled to West Virginia to conduct interviews and speak with law enforcement officials there.
Barnett has been charged in Iredell with one count of first-degree statutory sex offense, one count of second- degree forcible rape and three counts of taking indecent liberties with a child. All are felonies.
Sifford said he isn’t sure how long Barnett has lived in Rowan County. He worked for a fencing company.