• 41°

Billy Pless pleads guilty to assault, sexual battery

Convicted

Billy Floyd Pless

By Shavonne Walker

shavonne.walker@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — After a nearly two-day trial, Billy Floyd Pless, a man with a decades-long criminal record, pleaded guilty to charges of groping a woman and holding her against her will in 2017.

The Salisbury Police Department initially charged Pless, 64, with misdemeanor sexual battery and felony second-degree kidnapping. He pleaded guilty to felony habitual misdemeanor assault and misdemeanor sexual battery. He was sentenced to 11 to 23 months in prison and is required to be on the sex offender registry for 30 years.

Pless will receive credit for the time he spent in jail while waiting for the case to go to trial. He’s been in jail since his arrest on Aug. 7, 2017 — about a year and 10 months. He also was ordered to have no future contact with the victim.

The 27-year-old woman told police in August 2017 that she was walking home from a friend’s house on South Jake Alexander Boulevard about 7 a.m. on a Saturday. When she crossed near Klumac Road and South Main Street, Pless called out to her from his van.

He opened a side door and asked her to help him lift a canvas bag, the woman told police. The woman said she tried to walk away when Pless got out of the van. She told police he grabbed her from behind, turned her around, squeezed her face and kissed her.

The woman said she tried to get free, but Pless grabbed her again and groped her.

The woman said she kicked Pless in the groin. He fell to his knees and she ran home. The woman told her boyfriend and a cousin what happened, and they encouraged her to report the incident to police, according to a police report.

When officers went to arrest Pless the next day, they found him asleep in his van in the parking lot of Rowan Primary Care, 1406 W. Innes St.

Before the trial, Pless had been released from prison after a nine-month stay for being a habitual felon.

His most recent arrest before that was 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. An employee went to the Rowan County Magistrate’s Office to take out a private warrant.

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

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

Pless has 30 convictions that include assault on a female, communicating threats, domestic criminal trespassing, assault with a deadly weapon, hit and run, making 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 making harassing or threatening phone calls. In September 2013, Pless was convicted of assault and battery.

Contact reporter Shavonne Walker at 704-797-4253.

Comments

Local

Red wolves have been busy growing up at Dan Nicholas Park

Local

Salisbury City Council to consider contract for street paving

Education

Catawba College honors employees for length of service

High School

High school football: Clay hopes for big senior season

Local

Helen, Ralph Brown contribute to Christmas Happiness to help people in need

Cleveland

Cleveland Police charge woman with attempted murder after Sunday night shooting

Coronavirus

COVID-19 cases in Rowan continue to surge after 50 new cases added; 19% of total cases active

Local

Salisbury Police investigating accidental shooting at apartment building

Crime

Blotter: Salisbury man arrested on felony counts of trafficking

Local

Motorcyclist airlifted following wreck on Jake Alexander Boulevard Sunday

Elections

Political Notebook: Senate Republicans disagree with Cooper administration halting CARES Act spending

Ask Us

Ask Us: Readers ask about legality of begging in Salisbury, Dominion voting machines

Local

Biden fractures foot while playing with dog, to wear a boot

Crime

Blotter: Passenger in chase that ended downtown charged with possessing stolen vehicle

Business

Frustrated and confused by COVID-19 restrictions, local bar owners near breaking point

Elections

Republican volunteers say ‘passion’ drove victories across the ballot

News

Peppermint partnership: N.C. State’s Food Science Club manufactures ice cream toppings at Research Campus

Business

Biz Roundup: Salisbury-Rowan utilities honored for exceeding drinking water standards

Coronavirus

County reports 57 new COVID-19 positives Saturday

Local

Sharing the Season 2020 list

Lifestyle

One last blessing. For 20 precious minutes, 89-year-old Barrier met granddaughter

Business

Businesses plan to continue using practices driven by COVID-19 after pandemic is over

Business

Always on the hunt: Local entrepreneur grows real estate firm, earns accolade for success

Lifestyle

Sons of American Revolution honor local first responders