Billy Pless pleads guilty to assault, sexual battery
By Shavonne Walker
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.
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.
Editor’s note: The city announced Thursday morning the special meeting would now be at the Civic Center, at 315 S. Martin... read more