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Police: Woman groped walking home; man charged with sexual battery


Billy Pless Jr.

By Shavonne Walker


SALISBURY — Salisbury police say a woman was groped and held against her will by a man known for inappropriate behavior.

Police officers charged Billy Floyd Pless Jr., 64, with misdemeanor sexual battery and felony second-degree kidnapping. He was recently released from prison after a nine-month stay for being a habitual felon.

A 27-year-old woman told police she was walking home from a friend’s house on South Jake Alexander Boulevard about 7 a.m. Saturday. When she crossed near Klumac Road and South Main Street, a man in a van called out to her.

He opened his side door and asked her to help him lift a canvas bag, the woman told police. He got out of the van and she tried to walk away. A police report said Pless grabbed the woman from behind, turned her around, squeezed her face and kissed her. She tried to get free and her grabbed her again and groped her, the report said.

The woman kicked him in the groin and he fell to his knees, and then she ran home. She told her boyfriend and a cousin about what happened, and they encouraged her to report the incident to police.

Police issued warrants for Pless’ arrest Sunday. Pless was arrested about 3:45 a.m. Monday and was held in the Rowan County Detention Center under a $25,000 secured bond. Police officials said he was found asleep in his van in the parking lot of Rowan Primary Care, 1406 W. Innes St.

His most recent arrest came in May 2016 on a trespassing charge after he refused to leave a downtown Salisbury business. Pless was playing a piano in front of Growing Pains Consignment Shop, 122 S. Main St., when he said something inappropriate to a customer going into the shop, according to a police report. Pless was asked to leave but refused, and he became aggressive with store workers.

Police officers responded, but and employee went to the Rowan County Magistrate’s Office for a private warrant.

In June 2015, he was charged after failing to leave Hendrix Barbecue after the business closed. Authorities said he repeatedly dialed 911 to get a ride to his van at a repair shop.

In January 2015, Pless was taken to court for communicating threats against Karen Hinson. He was found guilty and received a suspended sentence in that case, but after court, he slammed into Hinson with his motorized wheelchair. Rowan authorities say as Hinson waited to get on the elevator after the case concluded, Pless told Hinson to “get out of my way, gal.” He knocked Hinson against a wall and bruised her leg, authorities said.

Pless has 30 convictions that include assault on a female, communicating threats, domestic criminal trespass, assault with a deadly weapon, hit and run, harassing phone calls and disorderly conduct.

His criminal record dates to 1982, when he was convicted of assault with a deadly weapon in both May and July of that year.

In 1983 and 1986, he was convicted of assault on a female. He was convicted in 1992 of trespassing and in 1997 of communicating threats.

He also has been charged with disorderly conduct, habitual misdemeanor assault, and harassing or threatening phone calls. In September 2013, Pless was convicted of assault and battery.

Contact reporter Shavonne Walker at 704-797-4253.



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